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A CLASH OF CULTURES: Civil-Military Relations during the Vietnam War

Orrin Schwab

Praeger Security International

A CLASH OF CULTURES

PRAEGER SECURITY INTERNATIONAL ADVISORY BOARD


Board Cochairs
Loch K. Johnson, Regents Professor of Public and International Affairs, School of Public and International Affairs, University of Georgia (U.S.A.) Paul Wilkinson, Professor of International Relations and Chairman of the Advisory Board, Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence, University of St. Andrews (U.K.)

Members
Eliot A. Cohen, Robert E. Osgood Professor of Strategic Studies and Director, Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, The Johns Hopkins University (U.S.A.) Anthony H. Cordesman, Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy, Center for Strategic and International Studies (U.S.A.) Thrse Delpech, Senior Research Fellow, CERI (Atomic Energy Commission), Paris (France) Sir Michael Howard, former Professor of History of War, Oxford University, and Professor of Military and Naval History, Yale University (U.K.) Lieutenant General Claudia J. Kennedy, USA (Ret.), former Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Headquarters, Department of the Army (U.S.A.) Paul M. Kennedy, J. Richardson Dilworth Professor of History and Director, International Security Studies, Yale University (U.S.A.) Robert J. ONeill, former Chichele Professor of the History of War, All Souls College, Oxford University (Australia) Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and Development, Department of Government and Politics, University of Maryland (U.S.A.) Jusuf Wanandi, co-founder and member, Board of Trustees, Centre for Strategic and International Studies (Indonesia) Fareed Zakaria, Editor, Newsweek International (U.S.A.)

A CLASH OF CULTURES
Civil-Military Relations during the Vietnam War

ORRIN SCHWAB

In War and in Peace: U.S. Civil-Military Relations David S. Heidler and Jeanne T. Heidler, General Editors

Praeger Security International Westport, Connecticut London

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Schwab, Orrin, 1956 A clash of cultures : civil-military relations during the Vietnam War / Orrin Schwab. p. cm. (In war and in peace : U.S. civil-military relations, ISSN 15568504) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0275984710 (alk. paper) 1. Vietnam War, 19611975United States. 2. Civil-military relationsUnited States. 3. United StatesPolitics and government20th century. I. Title. II. Series: U.S. civil-military relations. DS558.S389 2006 959.704'31dc22 2006015384 British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data is available. Copyright 2006 by Orrin Schwab All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced, by any process or technique, without the express written consent of the publisher. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 2006015384 ISBN: 0275984710 ISSN: 15568504 First published in 2006 Praeger Security International, 88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881 An imprint of Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc. www.praeger.com Printed in the United States of America
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The paper used in this book complies with the Permanent Paper Standard issued by the National Information Standards Organization (Z39.481984). 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

To the soldiers of the Vietnam War, 19541975 The outcome of the war is in our hands; the outcome of words is in the council. Homer, The Iliad You will kill ten of our men, and we will kill one of yours, and in the end it will be you who tire of it. Ho Chi Minh, President of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam The biggest lesson I learned from Vietnam is not to trust our own government statements. I had no idea until then that you could not rely on them. J. William Fulbright, U.S. Senator Theyve got us surrounded again, the poor bastards. General Creighton Abrams, COMUSMACV, 19681972

Contents
Series Foreword Preface Acknowledgments Abbreviations 1 The Context of Civil-Military Relations 2 Intervention ix xi xiii xv 1 17 43 63 85 105 123 143

3 Operations: Part I 4 Operations: Part II 5 Denouement 6 Alternative Means 7 Propaganda and Rhetoric 8 Continuity

viii Notes Selected Bibliography Index

CONTENTS

161 183 189

Series Foreword
No other aspect of a nations political health is as important as the relationship between its government and military. At the most basic level, the necessity of protecting the country from external and internal threats must be balanced by the obligation to preserve fundamental civil liberties. The United States is unique among nations, for it has successfully maintained civilian control of its military establishment, doing so from a fundamental principle institutionalized in its Constitution and embraced by its citizens. The United States has thus avoided the military coup that elsewhere has always meant the end of representative government and the extinguishing of individual freedom. The American military is the servant of citizens, not their master. This series presents the work of eminent scholars to explain as well as assess civil-military relations in U.S. history. The American tradition of a military controlled by civilians is venerableGeorge Washington established it when he accepted his commission from the Continental Congress in 1775but we will see how military leaders have not always been sanguine about abdicating important decisions to those they regard as inexperienced amateurs. And while disagreements between the government and the military become more likely during wars, there is more to this subject than the institutional arrangements of subordination and obedience that mark the relationship of government authorities and the uniformed services. The publics evolving perception of the military is also a central part of this story. In these volumes we will see explored the ne line between dissent and loyalty in war and peace and how the government

SERIES FOREWORD

and the armed forces have balanced civil liberties against national security. From the years of the American Revolution to the present, the resort to military justice has always been an option for safeguarding domestic welfare, but it has always been legally controversial and generally unpopular. The United States relies on civilians to serve as most of its warriors during major conicts, and civilian appreciation of things military understandably changes during such episodes. Opinions about the armed services transform accordingly, usually from casual indifference to acute concern. And through it all, military and civilian efforts to sustain popular support for the armed forces and mobilize enthusiasm for its operations have been imperative, especially when the military has been placed in the vague role of peacekeeper far from home for extended periods. The changing threats that America has confronted throughout its history have tested its revered traditions of civil-military relations, yet Americans have met even the most calamitous challenges without damaging those traditions. The most successful representative democracy in the world has defended itself without losing its way. We are hopeful that the volumes in this series will not only explain why but will also help to ensure that those vital traditions Americans rightly celebrate will endure. David S. Heidler and Jeanne T. Heidler, General Editors

Preface
The Vietnam War presents a seemingly inexhaustible topic for historians. This work interprets U.S. civil-military relations as they evolved in a consistent fashion over the course of the war. By necessity, the ground covered is broad, and my treatment concise. I have attempted to develop a framework for analyzing the complexity of the subject matter. Civilmilitary relations are understood as encompassing political, social, cultural, psychological and international dimensions. The military relied on the culture it inherited from two world wars in the twentieth century and many other limited conicts that engaged the U.S. armed forces throughout its history. The most important problem for the U.S. military during the Vietnam era was that civilian society was simultaneously supportive and oppositional. The desire to support military action was demonstrated in public opinion polls and congressional votes that gave the military sanction to prosecute the war. At the same time, civilian society imposed conditions on the military. The design of the war favored by senior military ofcers was never implemented. As the war progressed, and its severe costs in lives, resources and international prestige became apparent, the division between military and civilian ideologies and cultures became ever more conicted. Two cultures, one grounded in military history and institutions, the other civilian, founded in the political and social milieu of postSecond World War America, diverged over the Vietnam War. The clash over beliefs, expectations and interpretations of the war produced the policy

xii

PREFACE

course of four American presidents. Ultimately, the tragedy of Vietnam was the mutual damage to both cultural systems. For the decision makers, civilian and military leaders, the outcomes of their actions appeared predetermined by the political context of the war. William Westmoreland and Creighton Abrams, the Vietnam commanders, were in a strict sense, captive to the architecture of the war that they in turn helped to create. In turn, the civilian leaders, American presidents and their advisors were also framed within the political nature of the war, a global conict with mutually reinforcing mechanisms of response and reaction between national actors.

Acknowledgments
I would like to thank my editors, Heather Staines, editorial director of Praeger Security International, and David S. and Jeanne T. Heidler, series editors, for their cheerful encouragement over the past two years as I brought this project to completion. I was honored to be invited to write my second monograph on the Vietnam War. My rst monograph, Defending the Free World: John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and the Vietnam War, 19611965, was brought to publication by Praeger Publishers in 1998. Ms. Staines was also my editor, and I believe her timely offer in 1997 to publish the book has allowed me to continue my academic writing, which has included the publication of Redeemer Nation: America and the World in the Technocratic Age, 1914 to the Present in 2004. Both of these prior works have been referenced in this work. I would also like to thank the Regenstein Library at the University of Chicago for their impeccable resources to a grateful visiting scholar and alumnus. The Vietnam Virtual Archive, based at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, was also an invaluable resource for me as it should be to all Vietnam War scholars. Finally, I would like to thank my colleagues at Iridium Partners, who have more than tolerated my continued work as a scholar of U.S. international and military history.

Abbreviations
AID ARVN CI CIA CIDG CINCPAC COMUSMACV CORDS DIA DMZ DOD DRV GVN ICA JCS JCSM MAAG MACV Agency for International Development Army of the Republic of Vietnam counterinsurgency Central Intelligence Agency Civilian Irregular Defense Group Commander in Chief, Pacic Commander, United States Military Assistance Command Vietnam Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Services Defense Intelligence Agency demilitarized zone Department of Defense Democratic Republic of Vietnam Government of Vietnam International Cooperation Administration Joint Chiefs of Staff Joint Chiefs of Staff Memorandum Military Assistance Advisory Group Military Assistance Command, Vietnam

xvi MAP NFLSVN NLF NSAM NSC OSD OSS PAVN PF PLA POWs PRC PTSD RF RVN RVNAF SNCC SVN USAF USG USIA USIS USOM VC VCI VVAW

ABBREVIATIONS

Military Assistance Program National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam National Liberation Front National Security Action Memorandum National Security Council Ofce of the Secretary of Defense Overseas Secret Service Peoples Army of Vietnam Popular Forces Peoples Liberation Army Prisoners of War Peoples Republic of China post-traumatic stress syndrome Regional Forces Republic of Vietnam Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee South Vietnam United States Air Force United States government United States Information Agency United States Information Service United States Operations Mission Viet Cong Viet Cong Infrastructure Vietnam Veterans Against War

1
The Context of Civil-Military Relations
The Vietnam War in American political and military history remains an extraordinarily complex phenomenon. This book will attempt to provide the reader with a coherent examination of the context and evolution of U.S. civil-military relations during the era of the Vietnam War (19611975). The general idea guiding this exposition will be the development of a comprehensive view of the militarys role and function within the national security system as well as the larger social and political environment of the United States. The premise for this overarching concept will be an understanding of the military as an institution and cultural system connected organically to civilian institutions and culture. In sum, how Vietnam affected American military culture and institutions also had a mutual and interactive inuence on American society.1 LEGACIES To truly understand the Vietnam War, we must have in-depth knowledge of the historical and geopolitical environment that created it. The larger Cold War, between the liberal Western states of the North Atlantic community, and the socialist states of the international communist movement, established the political, strategic and psycho-cultural framework for the war. The Vietnam War was part of a succession of low intensity military conicts that engaged communist and anticommunist forces in Indochina. From February 1950, when Secretary of State Dean Acheson urged recognition of the French Indochina states premised on the goal of

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containment, to the spring of 1975 when Henry Kissinger and Gerald Ford watched the fall of Indochina helpless to stop it, the United States worked unsuccessfully to prevent the victory of communist armies.2 Nonetheless, despite the commitment of several million troops over more than a decade of active intervention, the United States lost its military engagement in South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. This debacle, however, must be understood in its historical context. That context includes both the history of the Vietnamese nation and the history of the United States as it entered the Cold War.3 The rst historical context to consider is the premodern history of the Vietnamese nation. From the very beginning of its national history, Vietnamese nationhood has been dened by resistance to foreign invaders, from the Chinese and Mongolian armies of the Song and Khan dynasties, to the modern wars against the French, Japanese and American powers. Within the traditions, historical traits and public memory of the Vietnamese people, there exists this core pattern of clandestine resistance to foreign rulers; and an abiding desire to preserve or regain Doc Lap or independence for Vietnam. Vietnamese civilization can be traced to 500 years B.C.E., when a tribe living in southern China began to migrate into the Red River delta region. Given its geographic proximity to China, Vietnam has always had to contest its independence from its immense neighbor. From its earliest history, the Vietnamese sustained a pattern of warfare and clandestine subversion against foreign occupiers. For over a thousand years, the Vietnamese remained under the control of Chinese emperors who incorporated Vietnam into the Chinese province of Jiaozhi. Over centuries, recurring rebellions were unsuccessful. Under the rule of its giant northern neighbor, the Vietnamese could not prevent the incessant process of Sinicization. However, in the tenth century, the Vietnamese won an historic naval battle against a Chinese eet and established for the rst time in a millennium a measure of national selfdetermination.4 Still, a small state on the border of the worlds most powerful empire, true independence for Vietnam or Dai Viet (the great state of the Viet) was eeting. From the tenth century to the arrival of the French in the nineteenth century, the Vietnamese continued to contest their national identity from numerically superior foreign enemies. These included the Mongol armies of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries who were defeated by indigenous Vietnamese resistance in three separate wars. Despite the obduracy of the Vietnamese, they continued to fall under Chinese rule. Periods of independence were dispersed between periods of tributary status. The Chinese Ming dynasty and later the Manchu dynasty maintained Vietnam as a tributary state up until the nineteenth century.

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Indeed, the name Vietnam dates only from the year 1802. It was then that the founder of the last Vietnamese royal dynasty, Nguyen Anh requested a name change to Nam Viet. The Manchu emperor reversed the order of the words to its modern form, Viet Nam (Viet people of the South).5 The French, driven by traditional European imperial interests, came to Indochina in force during the middle of the nineteenth century. By virtue of its military superiority over the Vietnamese and their neighbors, the French established their empire. Between 1858 and 1893, France successfully incorporated Vietnam and the other Indochinese states, Laos and Cambodia, into its overseas dominion. French Indochina included all of historical Vietnam, the regions of Cochin China, Annam and Tonkin, and the kingdoms of Laos and Cambodia. The colonies of Indochina were soon considered a proud jewel for the French global realm. With the importation of French technology and administration, the region quickly became a rich source of tropical products for its Gallic motherland. The Mekong Delta produced a huge surplus of rice for the world market, as well as rubber, jute and sugar. French domination increased commensurate with the development of the colonial plantation economy and the introduction of French institutions. Catholicism, the French language and French culture spread among the upper classes of Indochina. Despite the early and continuous existence of nationalist movements within the Indochinese states, French rule and the diffusion of metropolitan French culture remained strong through the end of French occupation in the 1950s. Active Vietnamese opposition to French rule began with the annexation of Vietnam in the nineteenth century. However, the rst major organized armed movement of Vietnamese began in 1930, when foreign-based Vietnamese nationalists initiated attempts to begin a widespread insurgency movement. This guerrilla warfare was led by the Vietnamese Workers Party under its founding leader, Ho Chi Minh, and a small group of loyal cadres carried on the resistance to French hegemony until the French themselves were forced to surrender to Imperial Japan during the Second World War. From 1940 to 1945, the Vietnamese found themselves in common cause ghting the Japanese for control of their homeland. The defeat of Imperial Japan in 1945 left a power vacuum in Indochina. Initially, British and Chinese troops occupied the French colony until French forces under the newly constituted postwar government of Charles de Gaulle, returned to claim Indochina for France.6 In the contemporary literature on the Vietnam conict, August 1945 has been recognized widely as the starting point for what Americans and Westerners know as the Vietnamese War for Independence or the Indochina Wars. That month, several important events dened the

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context of Americas thirty-year military involvement in Vietnam and Indochina. By August 1945, the French colonial government and Army had been replaced by an occupying Japanese Army. Just six months earlier, the overthrow of the French colonial administration by the Japanese in spring 1945 destroyed eighty years of French suzerainty in less than a week. The remnants of the French military withdrew to southern China as the Japanese imposed their control in the last months of the Second World War. The quick destruction of French rule gave strong inspiration to Vietnamese nationalists. They waited for the defeat of the Japanese empire in the Pacic. As soon as Imperial Japan ceased military operations in East Asia, popular Vietnamese forces, under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh seized control of the country. August 15, 1945, witnessed the immediate succession of Vietnamese authority over most of Vietnam. On September 2, 1945, the same day that Japans Emperor Hirohito signed instruments of unconditional surrender on the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay, Ho Chi Minh declared Vietnamese independence. A jubilant crowd estimated in the hundreds of thousands swamped Hanoi, as the nationalist and disguised communist gave an impassioned speech. With verbatim references to the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man, Ho announced the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.7 Ho made his declaration of independence with U.S. intelligence ofcers, members of the overseas secret service (OSS) standing at the podium. He was a de facto ally of the United States in the last years of the war, as American, British and Chinese forces moved against the Japanese empire on the Asian mainland. Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) had believed strongly in the necessity of Indochinese independence from French administration. Decolonization was part of Roosevelts postwar vision for the international system. With respect to French control of Indochina, FDR had particular disdain. In the summer and fall of 1945, Ho sent letters to the Truman administration asking for recognition for the new republic. Those letters went unanswered. Franklin Roosevelt died in April 1945, a month before the end of the war in Europe. Even before his death, the shadow of Soviet domination spread all over Eastern and Central Europe. In every country liberated from the Nazis, Soviet armies installed pro-Stalin provisional governments. Communist parties were ascendant everywhere on the continent. With Roosevelts death and the emergence of the Cold War in Europe, American support for Vietnamese independence waned. President Truman faced a different reality than his predecessor. In fashioning early postwar Indochina policy, President Truman had to consider the value of

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the French as an ally in Europe. In the fall of 1945, the French were desperate to return to Indochina. Charles de Gaulle, the commander of Free French forces during the Second World War, and the president of France in the immediate postwar period, used all political means to pressure the Truman administration. In regard to France, Truman had to consider the danger of the pro-Moscow French communist party. In the wars immediate aftermath, the party threatened to win control of the country. To prevent the second fall of France, this time to Stalin, Truman needed to consider the critical importance of French Indochina to the political survival of Charles de Gaulle.8 Frances critical importance to the reconstruction of Western Europe, and its fragility as a member of the Western alliance, gave preponderant weight to the American decision to allow the French to return to its Indochinese colonies. De Gaulle met with Truman at the White House at the end of August 1945. He assured Truman that his government would not maintain the status quo in postwar Indochina. Rather, the French were intent upon establishing independent states in the region. Satised with the French presidents assurances, in September 1945, U.S. military transports enabled the return of French military forces to Indochina. Over time, American logistical support for the French expanded to direct military aid.9 VIETNAM AND CONTAINMENT IN EAST ASIA During the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, U.S. observers, principally diplomats and journalists, perceived correctly that the Vietnamese independence movement was dominated by the Vietnamese communist party. The Indochinese Communist Party was founded by Ho Chi Minh in 1927. A 1930 uprising against the French was brutally suppressed by them. As part of a wide purge of communists, some 90 percent of party activists were arrested, and many were executed. Despite the link between Vietnamese nationalism and the international communist movement based in the Soviet Union, a doctrinal linkage between U.S. national security and Vietnam did not appear until the institutionalization of the Cold War in Asia.10 Vietnam became a vital interest for U.S. foreign policy as its integration into the world communist movement became apparent. By 1950, Dean Acheson, secretary of state for President Truman and acknowledged architect of the U.S. Cold War containment system, recognized Ho Chi Minhs regime as a long-term threat to U.S. interests. By then, shortly before the Korean War, the communist-dominated Viet Minh had become a formal ally of the communist bloc. Both the Soviet Union

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(USSR) and the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) recognized the Viet Minh as the legitimate government of Vietnam immediately after the victory of Mao Zedong and the Chinese communists in October 1949. A few years earlier, in 19451946, in the wake of the dismantling of the French Indochina regime, the Viet Minh had established successfully a revolutionary government opposed to the French Union. At that historical moment, the USSR had no observable relationship to the region, and the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) did not exist. However, Vietnams connection to the larger Cold War soon became more apparent. The Iron Curtain so described by Winston Churchill, became reality in Europe. In East Asia, the Chinese communists, long ignored by Stalin, obtained victory and a military alliance with the Soviet Union. With the Cold War division of Europe and the sweeping impact of the Chinese revolution in Asia, Indochina and Vietnams strategic value became quite evident to American observers.11 Between 1947 and 1954, the Vietnam Independence League (Viet Minh), under the political leadership of Ho Chi Minh and the military leadership of General Vo Nguyen Giap, waged a war of attrition against French Union forces. By 1950, in order to secure international and especially U.S. support, the French installed the Vietnamese emperor, Bao Dai, as the rst head of state of the newly created Republic of Vietnam. U.S. support for France expanded within the wider geostrategic context of the Cold War. The Chinese Revolution of October 1949, the ensuing Sino-Soviet alliance of 1950, enlarged the importance of French Indochina to U.S. interests. Foreign policy planning documents from 1950 showed the strategic signicance of Indochina within the arc of containment in East Asia.12 By the beginning of the Eisenhower administration, U.S. strategic doctrine had clearly codied the Indochina region as a vital interest of the United States. With the critical defeat of French Union forces at Dien Bien Phu in June 1954, a new U.S. role seemed apparent. The 1954 Geneva Accords laid the basis for this expansion to defend the region from communist domination. The accords provided for a limited U.S. advisory role in Vietnam. Between 1954 and 1961, that advisory role involved fewer than one thousand personnel. However, over $2 billion in military and civilian aid was provided by Eisenhower in a determined program of modernizing the Republic of Vietnams military, its agricultural and industrial infrastructures, including schools, roads, hospitals and communication systems.13 By the mid-1950s, the United States had made a very substantial investment in the defense of Indochina. Doctrinal reasons for U.S. intervention in Indochina were to protect the East Asian region from communism. As

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the Pentagon Papersreleased during the Nixon administration, clearly show, U.S. national security doctrine during the orthodox phase of the Cold War genuinely perceived a foreign enemy with global ambitions. Eisenhower, like his predecessor, Truman, and his successor, John F. Kennedy, believed the United States was involved in a war for national survival. U.S. perceptions of the Soviet Union were stark. The Soviet Union and its allies, despite their public diplomacy for dtente and disarmament, were perceived intent upon an aggressive strategy to subvert all Western, pro-Western and neutral governments. To prevent subversion and the expansion of world communism, national security intellectuals sought a counterstrategy. To protect the security of the United States required the deployment of a vigorous counterstrategy, waged on a global basis to protect all noncommunist or free world countries from communist expansion. This policy, known as containment, required treaty commitments, military and economic aid and in some cases, direct military involvement by the United States to protect the containment system. Containment in East Asia stretched across the rim of the Sino-Soviet bloc. To preserve the East Asian containment system, all countries on the defense perimeter from Japan and South Korea in the northeast, to Taiwan and the Philippines in the center, to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Malaysia in Southeast Asia, had to be protected. The fall of any of these countries threatened the fall of all of them. This idea, popularized by President Eisenhower, was known as the domino theory.14 From the vantage point of history, the domino theory as prescribed in the 1950s appears to be primitive social science. The notion that global foreign policy should rely on a simple metaphor of falling dominoes suggests an uninformed knowledge of the world. Nonetheless, U.S. containment strategy in East Asia rested on two principles: (1) the assumption of world revolution driven by a monolithic enemy and (2) the cascading effect of social and political revolution across regions and continents. To U.S. military and political analysts, the demonic image of global communism was consistent with reports from inside the communist bloc and with American experience in the mid-twentieth century. The Second World War involved a global war against an enemy that appeared to have demonic ambitions and capability. Likewise, the postwar confrontation with the Soviet Union and Communist China seemed to be a perfect analog to the war against fascism. With the Korean War and the rst Indochina War, containment doctrine was legitimated in U.S. foreign policy circles not only for East Asia but around the world. Through the Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson administrations, as the United States began to make larger and larger

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political and nancial commitments to the survival of South Vietnam, containment ideology acted as a reinforcing mechanism. Even as the political and military situation in Vietnam became more and more problematic, the doctrine strengthened U.S. resolve to go forward. Ultimately, the center of American resolve was grounded in the synthesis of historical memory and geostrategic ideology. The essential core beliefs of American policy makers in the domino theory and the expansionist threat of Soviet and Chinese communism became the cement for the American ground war in Vietnam.15 COLD WAR NATIONAL SECURITY INSTITUTIONS The American war in Vietnam would not have been possible without the ideological underpinnings of American anticommunism. A necessary condition for the ground war was the doctrine that situated Americas international survival upon the defeat of communist expansion in Southeast Asia. However, the containment strategy that expressed itself as the U.S.led ground war in the mid-1960s also rested on the development of postwar national security institutions. Beyond ideology, the organizational prerequisites for major war were met by large military and civilian institutions. The executive departments of the federal government, reconstituted in the 1940s to deal with global war, had the political and economic resources to implement complex international containment strategies. Therefore, an essential context for the unfolding of the U.S.-Vietnamese conict was the institutional structure of U.S. national security. The Vietnam War would not have been possible without the development of powerful military and civilian institutions that enabled the projection of American power across the Pacic Ocean to the remote area of Indochina. To send, as happened in the 1960s, 750,000 soldiers, airmen and sailors to a theater of combat some 7,000 miles from the continental United States, required a global institutional system prepared to support such a deployment. Prior to the Second World War, U.S. military power was extremely limited. The Army and Air Force were comparatively small and inconsequential. Despite the nations industrial and nancial dominance, two main sectors of military capability were not factors in the global balance of power. Before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, only the U.S. Navy was a strategic factor in world affairs. In preWorld War II America, the idea of sending substantial numbers of troops to Indochina or any place outside of the Americas was inconceivable. The United States not only lacked a strategic rationale for moving forces onto the Asian mainland, it had no means of elding such a force. All of these inherent constraints on U.S. military policy changed with

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the Second World War. In the space of just a few years, U.S. military institutions expanded geometrically. The Army, a force of 140,000 troops in the mid-1930s, had 8 million by the end of the war. The U.S. Navy, a force that was nearly obsolete during the same time period, had more ships and planes than the rest of the worlds navies combined. U.S. military force and the organizational structure that supported it underwent permanent expansion with the Second World War and the Korean War of the early 1950s. The early Cold War made the American national security state a permanent institutional system for the projection of military power on a global basis.16 By the Eisenhower administration, a bipartisan foreign policy supported the allocation of fully 10 percent of U.S. economic output to the postwar peacetime military. The professional armed forces of the United States had become a monolithic entity, with massive modernization programs in place. Whereas the 1930s U.S. military had nothing but aging battleships, primitive tanks and propeller-driven aircraft, the 1950s military had an expanding eet of nuclear powered submarines, supersonic jets, aircraft carriers and a huge Army of heavily armored tanks and other vehicles. The global force structure for U.S. military operations had grown exponentially. In the rst decade after the Second World War, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) had made certain that the U.S. armed forces would be deployed in forward positions in the event of another world war. By the mid-1950s, the United States had hundreds of overseas bases. The peacetime military of the early Cold War was endowed not only with new weapons systems but also, through military conscription, a nearly endless source of available manpower. By the late 1950s, U.S. doctrine and military resources had created the institutional environment for defending Indochina with major deployments of U.S. troops, planes and ships. The concept behind an active military response to perceived communist expansion was enshrined in the national security doctrine of the Eisenhower administration: A central aim of U.S. policy must be to deter the Communists from use of their military power. . . . If this purpose is to be achieved, the United States and its allies in the aggregate will have to have, for an indenite period, military forces with sufcient strength, exibility and mobility to enable them to deal swiftly and severely with Communist overt aggression in its various forms and to prevail in general war should one develop. In addition, the deterrent is much more likely to be effective if the United States and its major allies show that they are united in their determination to use military force against such aggression.17

10

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During the Truman administration the formal mechanisms for global power were institutionalized by congressional legislation. The postwar national security state replaced the Second World Wars Department of War with a Department of Defense. The Truman and Eisenhower administrations developed the National Security Council (NSC) as a White Housebased ofce to manage the expanded role of the United States in international affairs. The postwar State Department increased its analytical branch, the bureau of intelligence, and added new institutions for management of world and international public opinion and the distribution of international aid. The postwar intelligence community was institutionalized by the creation of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 1947 and the Defense Departments Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in 1961.18 By the early 1960s, the Kennedy administration included a welldened institutional system that integrated global military operations with political, economic and intelligence functions. Cold War national security involved the production of weapon systems, human and electronic intelligence, social science and military doctrine, and a managerial ideology that supervised the development of foreign policy. To a degree, all policy decisions by the U.S. government were mediated by a programmatic agenda that included the varied political interests within American society. Kennedys Vietnam policy and later the policy of Lyndon Johnson were vetted by the institutions that governed Cold War foreign policy. In practical terms, Kennedys and Johnsons national security institutions were responsible for maintaining the political signicance of Vietnam and Indochina to the Cold War containment system and to produce and implement plans that supported the involvement of the United States in the preservation of its Indochina allies. MILITARY CULTURE AND NATIONAL SOCIETY The national security state that launched the Vietnam War could not have existed or have been so dominant without broader support from American society. The Second World War had forced the total mobilization of American civil society. Sixteen million men and women, out of a pre-war population of 130 million, served in uniform. Millions of others worked in defense industries and supported the war effort through a myriad of activities. When the United States began the major deployment of troops into Vietnam, perhaps the greatest source of public support came from the vast socialization of American society to war that began in the early 1940s and continued to the beginning of the American ground war in the mid-1960s. In the largest sense, global war in the twentieth century had militarized American society and culture.19

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11

Postwar American society gloried the U.S. armed forces and military culture. Leading American actors gained recognition for portraying heroic soldiers, seamen and airmen, who defeated the Nazi and Japanese aggressors of the Second World War. Popular war movies from the 1940s through the 1960s commemorated the character of the American soldier, the intensity of American patriotism and the moral certainty of American society in ghting overseas. The McCarthy era, created not only a climate of fear for the political left, it also extolled the role of the military as the guardians of the country and the necessity for using force against communism. To be soft on communism, became the ultimate political epithet, used by members of both Republican and Democratic parties to de-legitimate electoral opponents. Pride in military history and a pervasive xenophobic anticommunism made militarism a fashionable motif. In 1964, Barry Goldwaters famous speech to the Republican Party convention delegates implied an absolute faith in a military solution to the Cold War. Goldwater lost his election to Lyndon Johnson, but the political position he represented, and the militaristic mode of understanding the world that he employed, were important factors in the prosecution of the Vietnam War.20 Along with Goldwaters conservative pro-war ideology, other conditions reinforced the militarys cultural appeal. Universal military conscription in the postwar era continued the socialization pattern for American males that supported the Cold War and the supremely popular military ethos. When the deployment of U.S. forces took place in the mid-1960s, American society had acculturated an entire postwar generation to support large military operations in the defense of ideological goals. Defending the free world through force of arms, however that world was dened by Americas political and media establishment, was endemic to a militarized society and national culture. Prior to Americas involvement in the Vietnam War, the vision of a heroic military portrayed by Hollywood and recounted in family dinners by millions of war veterans, was fully embedded within American popular consciousness. That vision or script, so broadly and deeply dened in the public identity of Cold War America, created a necessary foundation for the beginning of the Vietnamese-American conict.21 HISTORICAL MEMORY: THE MUNICH ANALOGY For many historians, historical memory, namely, a cultures representation of the past is an important concept. In a sense, both Vietnam and the United States were captive to memory. In the case of Vietnam, their approach to America was not substantially different than their strategy

12

A CLASH OF CULTURES

vis--vis the invading Mongol armies of the Middle Ages. In the case of America, Vietnam, like the Cold War in general, was dened by the memory of the Second World War. The Vietnam War literature includes the famous concept of the Munich analogy. Munich refers to the world historical event that occurred in Germany in fall 1938. Adolf Hitler, chancellor of the German Reich, with the support of Benito Mussolini, leader of fascist Italy, met with British and French prime ministers Neville Chamberlain and Edouard Daladier. The infamous Munich Pact allowed Germany to dismember Czechoslovakia and led directly to the Second World War. The betrayal of an ally became indelibly marked in Americas historical memory. Americas impotence in the face of an aggressive enemy became a symbol and an unconscious mechanism within American culture to resist a repetition of Munich. For the generations that fought the Second World War, the historical memory of Munich and the entire experience of the war shaped their response to all crises in the post-1945 international system.22 The Korean War, launched suddenly in late June 1950, did not appear to a neutral observer to be a battleground for the United States. U.S. forces supported the Republic of Korea in the southern part of the Korean Peninsula, providing support for a free world ally. However, Korea, according to publicly declared U.S. foreign policy, was not a vital interest of the United States. Neither the Joint Chiefs of Staff nor State Department viewed Korea within the Pacic defense perimeter. Korea was not deemed vital to the reconstruction of Japan nor the safety of the Pacic Fleet. In practical terms, the loss of Korea would have made little difference to U.S. national security, at least according to national security doctrine as of June 1950.23 Yet, within hours of the invasion, the Truman administration responded with outrage and a determination not to let the North Korean invasion succeed. The Munich syndrome, not to appease an aggressor, was, in the case of the Korean War, a reexive response to an act of overt aggression by an enemy country. For Harry Truman and his secretary of state, Dean Acheson, ignoring the unilateral action of the North Korean Army or negotiating the unication of Korea in the face of such aggression, would have been an unthinkable act of appeasement. Similarly, the psychological response to Vietnam in the 1950s and 1960s was in the classic pattern of the Munich analogy or syndrome. Unwilling to repeat the appeasement that led to Hitlers dangerous victories in Europe, American policy makers and the American public, conditioned by Munichs iconographic historical memory, supported an offensive response to the crisis in South Vietnam. This same reaction pattern, demonstrated in determined public policy speeches as well as internal

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13

discussions by high-level decision makers, was apparent in U.S. actions and rhetoric in other international imbroglios, from the Berlin, Formosa and Laos crises of the Eisenhower administration, to the multitude of events under other Cold War presidents. In particular, the presidencies of John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan were brimming with the Munich syndrome. Even the postCold War presidencies of George Bush Sr., Bill Clinton and George Bush Jr., show the continuing relevance of Munich as a cultural symbol and historical memory; this despite the disaster of the Vietnam War and countervailing Vietnam syndrome that appeared to mitigate its impact on American society and foreign policy.24 THE ROLE OF THE MILITARY The militarys role in the Vietnam War was complex, reecting both its political and operational responsibilities in the conict. The political role of the U.S. military reected the institutional orientation of the U.S. armed forces as a conservative and nationalist entity within American society. For senior ofcers in all four major branches of the U.S. military, the Vietnam War was a critical challenge against the nations primary enemy, international communism. In the origins or context of the conict, military advice to the White House and the civilian departments of the executive branch, demonstrated a powerful preference for engaging the enemy in Indochina. From the mid-1950s through the mid-1960s, during the transition from advisory roles to combat deployments, senior military ofcers in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, argued for the sustained use of U.S. military force throughout the Indochina theater of operations. Working within the Clausewitzian theory of war taught by major war colleges and practiced by the U.S. armed forces since the nineteenth century, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and its lower commands, commander in chief Pacic Command (CINCPAC) and Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV), recommended large-scale integrated military operations against the North Vietnamese, Viet Cong and any other forces allied with them. This was a constant and reiterated theme in military-civilian communications about Vietnam and Indochina.25 The inuence of the nineteenth-century German military historian and theorist on U.S. military doctrine cannot be overestimated. The central principles of operational and strategic art by all modern Western armies reference Carl von Clausewitzs most famous work, On War. In one book, Clausewitz has given students and practitioners of war in the Western world a vast encomium of military knowledge. He dened the

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A CLASH OF CULTURES

practice of war as the execution of essential principles of military organization and tactics. For Clausewitz, military culture and the institution of the Army were a unique and all-encompassing reality: War is a special business, and however general its relations may be, and even if all the male population of a country, capable of bearing arms, exercise this calling, still it always continues to be different and separate from the other pursuits which occupy the life of man.To be imbued with a sense of the spirit and nature of this business, to make use of, to rouse, to assimilate into the system the powers which should be active in it, to penetrate completely into the nature of the business with the understanding, through exercise to gain condence and expertness in it, to be completely given up to it, to pass out of the man into the part which it is assigned to us to play in War, that is the military virtue of an Army in the individual.26 As a practical matter, civilian politics acted as a brake upon all military requests for escalation. Driven by two hundred years of Clausewitzian war theory, military ofcers trained at West Point always aimed at the quick massive application of force against the enemy. The purpose of most civilian authority was to limit military aspirations for total war against civilian fears of just that. Over years of debate and constant changes in operational circumstances, military requests were agreed to in an incremental fashion. Nonetheless, during the Vietnam War conict of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, from the beginning of the strategic commitment to Indochina, military and civilian actors within the executive branch engaged in a constant mainly oppositional dialogue.27 The opposition between military and civilian views of the conict was set in the context of the larger Cold War. Cold War ideology, national security institutions and military culture set the militarys role in opposition to the diplomatic and managerial roles of the civilian branches of the government. If the U.S. military had control over Americas conduct of the war in Vietnam, the engagement would have been very different. Yet, that was not to be. The context of the war reected the architecture of American society and culture in the postSecond World War world. It was a context framed by the nuclear age and social forces within the domestic system of the United States. From the beginning of the Kennedy administration through the fall of the three Indochina regimes during the Ford administrationover fourteen years of international and American historymilitary ofcers, civilian strategists, diplomats and statesmen, struggled over the direction of

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15

Indochina policy. Four American presidents attempted to reconcile military solutions with political solutions to the conict. The military played its role under the immense pressures of war and political dissent. Military institutions and individuals suffered under these twin vices, trying to win a war that in practical terms had become unwinnable. The lessons learned from the war, as military analysts calculated in the years immediately after its denouement, has shaped modern U.S. strategic doctrine for decades. The following chapters describe the experiences of the military in more detail, showing how military and civilian approaches to the war reinforced strategic and operational compromises that in the end resulted in a comprehensive defeat for the United States and its military.

2
Intervention
The Kennedy administration came into ofce without a specic agenda for Indochina other than to continue the policies of the Eisenhower White House. Nonetheless, the pull of containment policy vis--vis the region was irresistible. The day before his inauguration, Kennedy met with Eisenhower at the White House to discuss national security concerns. Eisenhowers most pressing concern, after eight years in the oval ofce was the Laotian crisis of January 1961. Eisenhower believed that the victory of Pathet Lao forces over the existing pro-Western regime would doom Indochina to communist invasion and control. The Kennedy administration took this under advisement and consulted immediately with the JCS.1 The dialogue between the Kennedy White House and the JCS over Laos in spring 1961 was a dry run for the civilian-military dialogue over Indochina during the Vietnam War. Clearly, had Kennedy taken the advice of the JCS in the rst year of his administration, a huge deployment of U.S. forces to the Indochina region would have occurred. As discussed in chapter 1, the strategic ideology of senior military ofcers was Clausewitzian. Based upon more than a century of large eld Army experience, the JCS understood the application of military force to require the powerful directed use of force to accomplish specic objectives. If Kennedy wanted to intervene in Laos, a decidedly unfavorable area for U.S. military forces, the JCS recommended a force of over 100,000 men. The president did not accept the JCS views on Laos, and he quickly decided to defer to diplomacy, and had Averill Harriman, his undersecretary of

18

A CLASH OF CULTURES

state for political affairs and a key advisor, lead a U.S. diplomatic team to negotiate an end to the Laotian Civil War.2 Kennedy and later Lyndon Johnson were at permanent odds with the JCS over war strategy in Indochina and in the larger Cold War. The central idea of military realism, the strategic vision of the U.S. military, was that the international system was governed by power relations; to preserve Americas strategic power, sufcient force had to be deployed to deter and if necessary to defeat national adversaries. The Soviet Union and the Peoples Republic of China were dened as enemies of the United States, comparable to the fascist states of the Second World War. JCS doctrine required the forward deployment of forces in East Asia and Europe to meet the presumed expansionist designs of these twin enemies. The rst year of the Kennedy administration was marked by Cold War crises over control of Laos, Cuba, the newly independent Congo and the city of Berlin. Kennedy was advised to take major military action in all of these conicts if particular crises escalated beyond certain points. Senior Army, Air Force, Navy and marine commanders premised their advice on their military experience and the presumed overwhelming superiority of American arms. While the State Department viewed the use of nuclear weapons to be a doomsday device, only to be contemplated in the event of global nuclear conict, the JCS thought otherwise. In several memorandums drafted in March 1961, the chairman of the JCS, Lyman Lemnitzer, argued for the need to include nuclear weapons as an option in limited warfare. To do otherwise, he suggested, would compromise the ability of the United States to implement the doctrine of exible response, that is, to deter the communists from engaging in regional conicts as in Indochina.3 The uncompromising pro-war stance of the JCS was in stark contrast to the thinking of the congressional leadership. The most powerful man in Congress in 1961 was Senator Mike Manseld of Montana. He had familiarity with Asia having served there for years while he was in the Navy. A strict opponent of the French Indochina war, he had not changed his mind in 1961 with respect to Vietnam. A profound fear of Chinese intervention framed bipartisan congressional opinion during the Kennedy administration. To the degree that sending U.S. combat forces to South Vietnam would be perceived by the Communist Chinese as a threat from their southern anks, Manseld and his colleagues were unwilling to authorize or nance U.S. forces. The military, wedded to the strategic realism of its culture and institutions, did not view the Soviets or the Chinese as direct threats to military success in Indochina. The greater danger for men such as Air Force Chief of Staff Curtis Le May and General of the Army and chairman of the JCS

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Lyman Lemnitzer was to allow Indochina to fall to international communism. What do we have to do to win, Lemnitzer asked in May 1961 in a telegram to his colleagues in the Pentagon. He referred to the cautious strategy that the Kennedy administration was taking in South Vietnam. Diem was in trouble, and U.S. military assistance needed to be expanded. For Lemnitzer, piecemeal approaches to military problems were antithetical to accepted doctrine. If division level deployments were required to secure a strategic asset, that is, South Vietnam, then doctrine indicated that the only logical and feasible solution was to commit whatever resources were necessary to win.4 THE CREATION OF MACV An important legacy of the Kennedy administration for the Vietnam conict was the creation of an expanded in-country organization to coordinate U.S. military operations. The Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV), replaced Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) in 1962 as the principal eld organization for U.S. armed forces in Vietnam. After the general review of Vietnam policy in November 1961, it was deemed necessary to create a larger military advisory system to accomplish U.S. operational and strategic objectives. To protect South Vietnam from the growing Viet Cong insurgency, a larger military organization with authority at the same level as the U.S. diplomatic mission was needed. U.S. policy documents from the period indicated a consensus view in Washington that the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) had to be expanded to over two hundred thousand men. To improve the overall combat capabilities and the size of the ARVN, the advisory effort had to be upgraded with a larger eld organization commanded by a more senior military ofcer. Paul Harkins, a lieutenant general of the Army, was sent to Vietnam as the rst MACV commander. Rivalries between the service branches compromised the effectiveness of MACV as a unied center of command. In theory, all military operations in the Indochina theater were supposed to be authorized by MACV through the chain of command in Hawaii (CINCPAC headquarters). In reality, MAAG continued to coexist with MACV until June of 1964. Of greater consequence was that military operations were coordinated through separate CINCPAC commands. Air Force, Army and Marine Corps Pacic Commands delivered orders in the Indochina region to their respective MACV service commands. Simultaneously, MACV under the theater commander retained control over the eld of operations. This very complicated parallel command structure violated basic war doctrine, which required unity of command as a fundamental operational principle.5

20

A CLASH OF CULTURES

Nonetheless, the political component of MACV enabled the MACV commander to support the broad political and strategic objective of the U.S. military in Indochina. By having a unied eld commander for all military operations in theater, the civilian sector of the government as well as the American public could focus on the military as a distinct and important actor in U.S. intervention. When the MACV commander, William Westmoreland, requested a major increase in ground forces in 1965, and in effect, a major political commitment by the Johnson administration to a prolonged ground war with U.S. combat units, the political role of MACV was quite important. It established a focus for the military as an actor in the war effort, even if major political decisions concerning the war were made in Washington. The expansion of the ARVN and the creation of MACV in early 1962, coincided with an aggressive new program of pacication. Along with the ability to nd and engage main force National Liberation Front (NLF) units, the Diem regime understood that the key to success rested with the ability of the South Vietnamese government to defeat the enemy at the village level. Unless the Government of Vietnam (GVN) could deny the NLF access to the poor rural farmers who were the base of both its political and military organizations, the ARVN would never be able to defeat the insurgency. A protected or fortied hamlet, adopted from British counterinsurgency in Malaya, became the focus of Diems vigorous if ill-fated pacication program. STRATEGIC HAMLET PROGRAM A Vietnamese hamlet consists of a cluster of huts in an agricultural settlement. Hamlets comprised the smallest administrative unit in Vietnam. In the early 1960s, there were some 12,000 hamlets in South Vietnam. In turn, these communities belonged to villages; between three and ve hamlets comprised a rural village. The Strategic Hamlet program, was adopted by the Diem government as their primary tool for denying the NLF their essential means of recruitment and logistical support in rural Vietnam. By exclusion or separation from the Vietnamese peasants, the GVN assumed that the communist insurgency would weaken and eventually die. Based on the successful British counterinsurgency model used in Malaya during the 1950s, the Diem regime began a vigorous counterinsurgency (CI) program based on the concept of fortied villages with trained local militias.6 Presented to policy makers as a comprehensive pacication strategy for all of South Vietnam, the Strategic Hamlet program received the enthusiastic endorsement of the Kennedy Administration. President Kennedy

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was deeply impressed with the new techniques of counterinsurgency warfare. In 1962, the Strategic Hamlet program was at the center of Kennedys counterinsurgency program in South Vietnam. The administration was looking for a way of winning the war in the countryside without deploying large numbers of troops, either South Vietnamese or United States. Key civilian advisors, including Edward Lansdale, one of the most experienced military advisors, with a long history in Vietnam, championed the Strategic Hamlet program, as did Roger Hilsman, the director of the State Departments Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Civilian enthusiasm for the hamlet program centered on their belief in the utility of village based self-defense. State Department and South Vietnamese ofcials believed they could successfully implement the British protected village program that had been successful in Malaya during the 1950s. The British military advisor, J. Walter Thompson, visited South Vietnam as a guest of the U.S. advisory team and the administration of Ngo Dinh Diem. His advice, carried back to Washington by the Vietnam Task Force, encouraged the Kennedy administration in their belief in protected hamlets as a viable pacication strategy.7 Despite the optimism of civilian ofcials, the JCS saw little military value in the hamlet program. Senior U.S. military ofcers were openly skeptical of the viability of the program from the start. They viewed the concept as a civilian based attempt to solve a military problem with limited means and effectiveness. From the perspective of professional military ofcers trained in modern tactical warfare, the Strategic Hamlet program violated basic principles of operational doctrine. The program did not engage enemy forces, but simply waited for them to attack. The organization of thousands of hamlets around the country seemed grossly impractical, and would not prevent the enemy from massing his forces and exploiting weaknesses in the program. Indeed, the GVN was constructing the fortied hamlets at a pace of 300 per month throughout 1962 and 1963. However, many of the settlements were in isolated regions in the countrys north and interior, a substantial distance from the main force units of the ARVN. Since the existence of the hastily built hamlets themselves would not reduce the absolute numbers of the irregular forces on the ground, senior U.S. military ofcers remained aloof and skeptical that they would truly effect pacication. JCS Chairman Lemnitzer expressed his view that unconventional warfare was an overrated means of operation: Recently, I have detected efforts on the part of individuals and agencies to minimize the importance of the regular military forces of a nation in counterinsurgency operations. I have taken issue with such approaches on every occasion when the opportunity presented itself.8

22

A CLASH OF CULTURES

On the other hand, the political oriented view of the State Department was dominant in the Kennedy administration. Counterinsurgency specialists such as Edward Lansdale, and former military ofcers such as Roger Hilsman, disagreed with the military critique of the hamlet program. Key political ofcers in the administration supported the South Vietnamese governments pacication project. From the CI perspective, Strategic Hamlets would work if they were implemented with enough resources and organizational support. Once they were operational and deprived the NLF with the support of rural villages, the Viet Cong (VC) would be fatally weakened. Once Vietnamese peasants could see that they were protected from Viet Cong raids, and that they had a stake in the existing Saigon government, the war would turn. By providing protection form VC terror, as well as the material support of food, medicine and educational supplies paid for with U.S. foreign aid, the hamlets would become loyal anticommunist settlements.9 There was no contention among political and military observers of South Vietnam in the early 1960s that the rural areas were critical to the survival of the republic. The insurgency had support in the cities, but in the Mekong Delta, in the Central Highlands and along the coast north toward the ancient Vietnamese royal capital of Hue, NLF units could nd men, food and intelligence support to expand their revolutionary army. By fortifying thousands of South Vietnamese villages with moats, barbed wire and local militia units loyal to the government, it was thought, albeit naively, that the insurgency would be dealt a decisive blow. Throughout 1962 and through the summer and early fall of 1963, the hamlet program was implemented by the Diem regime with the help of MACV. In general, pacication reports sent to Washington determined rapid and clear progress. Paul Harkins, MACV commander, reported steady progress in the ARVN. The South Vietnamese Army was becoming more and more capable in eld, inicting substantial casualties on the VC. The State Department reported problems with the implementation of the Strategic Hamlet program. Many hamlets were being barely equipped with a handful of ries for protection, but both MACV and State remained cautiously optimistic about the counterinsurgency effort.10 By the late spring of 1963, MACV and the U.S. Embassy were predicting total success against the insurgency by 1965. Yet, the reports of outstanding progress were illusory. This was apparent to U.S. reporters, who went into the eld with U.S. military advisors and their units in 19621963, and State Department ofcers who by passed ofcial channels and went to look for themselves. The classic encounter between

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civilian and military ofcers over the success of the Strategic Hamlet program occurred in September 1963. In the wake of the Buddhist protests against the Diem government throughout the summer of 1963, Kennedy dispatched two observers, one military and the other civilian to report on the state of the counterinsurgency effort in South Vietnam.11 The military and civilian team, Marine Corps General Victor Krulak, and State Department Ofcer John Mendenhall, attached to the Vietnam Task Force of the National Security Council, reported directly to President Kennedy after a ve-day tour of South Vietnam. Victor Krulak reported that the Strategic Hamlet program and overall counterinsurgency efforts were a success. The U.S. and the South Vietnamese, by his estimation, were winning the war. Mendenhall said precisely the opposite. He viewed the situation in the South as deteriorating rapidly and the Strategic Hamlet program as a denite failure. Kennedy wondered if the two men had visited the same country. After the coup and assassination of Diem in November 1963, an examination of the hamlet program by the U.S. military quickly determined that the Diem regime had completely misrepresented the success of the hamlet program. Thousands of hamlets that would be shown on military maps as under government control were actually overrun by the Viet Cong and were under the control of the NLF. The insurgency, rather than being fatally weakened by the hamlet program, had grown signicantly in men, weapons and logistical support. The hamlets had proven easy prey for the VC, who massed their forces when the superior government units had left the immediate vicinity. Nighttime assaults by hundreds of VC cadres left targets with destroyed fortications and local militias who had surrendered or joined the NLF.12 THE FALL OF DIEM The fall of the Diem regime in November 1963 has been called a critical early turning point in the Vietnam War. Once Diems autocratic government was deposed by dissident ARVN generals, the South Vietnamese state was never able to recapture the initiative vis--vis the Viet Cong. From the deaths of Diem and his brother Nhu, the precarious state of political and military conditions in-country led to a rapid and seemingly inevitable expansion of U.S. involvement. In no more than eighteen months from the November 2 coup, Viet Cong and U.S. troop numbers expanded exponentially. Despite these historical facts, counterfactual claims that keeping Diem in power would have stabilized South Vietnam are questionable. Under any circumstances, it would appear that Diems corrupt and very

24

A CLASH OF CULTURES

repressive government was not going to remain in power much beyond 1963. As Robert McNamara, the secretary of defense, learned in his postcoup trip to South Vietnam, the Strategic Hamlet program was an abject failure. Viet Cong recruitment was vigorous and quite successful throughout South Vietnam, and North Vietnamese support was rapidly increasing through the Ho Chi Minh trail. Irrespective of Diems survival, larger forces, including Chinese and Soviet military aid to North Vietnam, and the profound unpopularity of Diem among the general population of South Vietnam, indicated that his overthrow was just a matter of time.13 Diems downfall occurred over a period of months, beginning with the protests of Buddhist priests in May 1963. In spring 1963, repressive measures by Diems secret policy against the Buddhist community, prompted dramatic acts of self-immolation, which were photographed and appeared on the pages of newspapers all over the world. Diems sister-inlaw, Madame Nhu, was quoted widely as sharing open contempt for the Buddhists who committed suicide. The overt cruelty of her remarks was a public relations disaster for Diem. Criticisms of his regimes nepotism and brutality mobilized domestic and international opposition to his government. Since the South Vietnamese people did not freely elect Diem, and a long record of repression was documented against him and his associates, political support from the United States was limited to conservatives who admired his pro-Western and anticommunist positions. Diems Catholic faith made him very popular with conservative Catholics such as Henry Luce, the publisher of Time and Life magazines. Nonetheless, the preponderant view of Diem among both military and civilian observers inside and outside Vietnam reected a profound disappointment.14 In the wake of growing civil protests against Diems government in the late summer and fall of 1963, Diem maintained the support of the American ambassador Fritz Nolting. However, Nolting was red from his post, after a scathing report at the White House by the esteemed senior Kennedy administration diplomat, Averill Harriman. As Nolting departed the scene, General Paul Harkins, MACV commander, and nominally a strong Diem supporter, indicated to President Kennedy that senior South Vietnamese generals were plotting to overthrow Diem. Harkins was so disappointed with the Diem regime, after two years of ardent support, that he told Kennedy he supported the coup leaders plans. Kennedy, in secret communication at the end of August, reluctantly gave the green light to the new ambassador, Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. and Harkins to allow the coup to go forward.15 Kennedy and his key advisors followed the coup planning until the moment that military units, under the command of Dong Van Minh

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25

(Big Minh) physically removed the Ngo brothers from power. Shortly afterward, President Diem and his brother Ngo Dinh Nhu were killed gangland style. President Kennedy was deeply shocked by the deaths of the two menhe had not ordered their executions. Kennedy himself, without knowing it, had less than three weeks to live before he too would be assassinated in Dallas, apparently by a lone gunman. Despite this striking coincidence, no documents suggest a relationship between Kennedys assassination and the prior coup that ended the Diem government. TRANSITION TO THE JOHNSON ADMINISTRATION The political context of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution began with the transition to the Johnson administration. In his three years in ofce, President Kennedy had oriented his Indochina policy toward limiting U.S. involvement. In his reluctant expansion of aid and advisors, Kennedy was very sensitive to the prospect of a wider Asian war. Although he believed in the necessity of protecting U.S. interests in a noncommunist Southeast Asia, there were strict limits to his willingness to use direct military force. Both Kennedy and the Congressional leadership wanted to avoid a second land war with the Peoples Republic of China. Under these circumstances, the JCS advocacy for an aggressive expansion of U.S. forces in South Vietnam was never considered seriously by Kennedy. The president remained committed to nation building, and CI operations in the Republic of Vietnam, while simultaneously pursuing channels of negotiation with the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV), the USSR and China to reach a political settlement. Lyndon Johnson was a different leader. His perceptions of the situation in Vietnam were the same as Kennedys, but his willingness to consider military escalation, was greater. Johnson remained at odds with the JCS and the military lobby in Congress on the level of force. Despite his ardent determination to maintain the Wests containment position in Indochina, Johnson refused to endorse large-scale troop deployments and extensive, wide-ranging bomber sorties by U.S. airpower. Nonetheless, the new Johnson administration took a noticeable turn toward the ideology of force, what I have termed military realism, at the expense of the political track favored by State Department internationalists. Indeed, nation building, counterinsurgency operations and diplomacy continued in full swing under Lyndon Johnson. However, the focus of Vietnam policy during the rst year of Lyndon Johnsons presidency was preparation. Johnson and his key advisors were involved in staying the ongoing crisis in South Vietnam, while they prepared the nation and the world, largely

26

A CLASH OF CULTURES

through public diplomacy, for greater U.S. involvement, including direct military action.16 In the rst month of his administration, Johnson was briefed by senior advisors on the state of affairs in post-Diem South Vietnam. The Department of Defense, which had disputed the State Departments dour view of the Strategic Hamlet program, reported to Johnson in December 1963 that the program was in ruins. Thousands of fortied hamlets had been destroyed or overrun by the NLF, and little remained of the pacication efforts in the countryside. Politically, the fall of Diem had replaced a weak but stable authoritarian regime with a very weak and unstable military junta. The South Vietnamese generals had no inherent gifts for domestic politics. At the end of January 1964, General Duong Van Minh the leader of the coup group against Diem, was replaced in a bloodless coup by General Nguyen Khanh, who feared the South Vietnamese government under Minh wanted to declare itself a neutral country, and seek reunication with the communist North. The ongoing power struggle within the GVN beneted the growth of the insurgency. The NLF grew each month with new recruits and southern cadres who returned from spending years in the North. Opposing the energized communists were the war weary and apathetic South Vietnamese, who were now accustomed to corrupt, self-serving local ofcials, and an equally corrupt and undisciplined ofcer corps with little interest in defending the edgling Republic of Vietnam. In March 1964, Robert McNamara, the secretary of defense, gave a speech outlining new actions for U.S. policy in Vietnam. In large measure, the program outlined in the speech maintained the balanced managerial strategy that combined political and military tracks. Political efforts would include enhanced and accelerated means for supporting the GVN. The GVN would be helped with improving its civilian administration of the South. It would be given more resources to expand its counterinsurgency operations against the NLF, as well as military equipment that would develop the conventional military capabilities of the ARVN.17 THE MILITARY AND THE GULF OF TONKIN The Gulf of Tonkin incidents and the congressional resolution that resulted from them were a critical turning point in the escalation of the Vietnam War. The Gulf of Tonkin resolution of August 1964 gave legal and political support to the Johnson administration in its prosecution of the war. The incidents themselves were of questionable veracity, almost from the time they occurred. The rst incident did happen: a minor confrontation in international waters in Tonkin Gulf, some ninety miles

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from the North Vietnamese mainland. The second incident, however, occurred at night, several days after the rst one, and was never proven. In the middle of the night, the heightened state of anxiety aboard the naval destroyers patrolling off the North Vietnamese coast seemed to have induced the appearance of an attack. Radar signals that were interpreted as torpedoes were found in after-action reports to have been more likely the result of radar bouncing off the ships starboard rudders. John McCain, who later became a captured pilot and prisoner of war in Hanoi, and still later a U.S. Senator, was one of the pilots sent out to search for the attacking North Vietnamese missile boats. He found nothing, in what was most likely an utterly phantom episode.18 Despite the awed nature of the twin incidents, the rst and second presumed naval attacks in the rst week of August 1964 provided a badly needed pretext for mobilizing domestic public opinion and congressional support. Throughout the rst half of 1964, Vietnam was growing to be a political albatross for Lyndon Johnson. He despised the thought of going into the country with a major commitment, yet he saw no political and strategic alternative but to nd some way to support the South Vietnamese government. In order to increase the size of the U.S. commitment to South Vietnam, and to increase the range of military options they could use against Ho Chi Minh and his communist regime, the Johnson administration needed a critical event such as the Gulf of Tonkin. Indeed, Johnson and his senior staff were waiting for a major crisis involving North Vietnamese aggression to mobilize public opinion and congressional political capital. Johnson needed to take the issue of U.S. intervention in Southeast Asia to the Congress and the public. He needed to establish the legal and political authority for wider action in the Indochina region. No sooner had the brief naval encounter ended, than Lyndon Johnson went on national television to ask for a congressional resolution granting him specic executive branch authority to use force as necessary to preserve the peace and security of Southeast Asia. The resolution was repealed by Congress in 1970. In 1964, however, the Tonkin legislation established an immediate level of support and common objective between the Congress and the U.S. military. The JCS had since the beginning of the Kennedy administration, advocated largescale military operations in Indochina to defeat the NLF and force the North Vietnamese into a political settlement that guaranteed South Vietnamese independence. On the other hand, Congress was in general quite wary of any military involvement in Indochina, irrespective of the fate of the Republic of Vietnam. The Tonkin Gulf Resolution, opposed by only two U.S. Senators, established common ground for the military and

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civilian branches of the U.S. government. If only a chimera, the consensus pursued by Lyndon Johnson was a platform for aggressive deployments to support South Vietnam.19 TONKIN AS POLITICAL AND STRATEGIC EVENT The military actions in the Gulf of Tonkin in the rst week of August 1964 were a God send to the interventionist wing of the Johnson administration. For the JCS, the immediate results of the Tonkin Gulf Resolution were modest but essential. The resolution passed House and Senate with but two lone senators opposing it. The unity of purpose that the resolution gave the country created a solid base of legitimacy for whatever future strategy the United States deployed against the communists in Indochina. By reafrming the power of the President to use all necessary means to protect U.S. security interests in the region, strong advocates of intervention, which certainly described the senior ofcer corps in the U.S. armed forces, now had the political capital with U.S. public opinion to support their plans.20 The military, however, did not control the president or the executive branch. All military action in Southeast Asia had to be approved by the White House in consideration of the views of the Congress and within the context of the entire universe of world politics and domestic politics. Planning for intervention went forward, deliberately and inexorably from August 1964 to the following summer, when Johnson initialed the escalation strategy that resulted in what contemporary Americans understand as the Vietnam War. Yet, the military could only lobby the White House for its unied Clausewitzian perspective; that military force in Indochina would only be effective if it was applied according to the principles of war; namely, that military force, whether it was land, sea- or airpower, had to be integrated into a coherent, simplied strategy of overwhelming force against the vital assets of the enemy. THE GROUND WAR BEGINS: 1965 The American ground war began in 1965 because the South Vietnamese government was clearly in danger of collapse. Daily and weekly eld reports sent to Washington, by State, CIA and MACV, all described the increasing ability of NLF units against the ARVN. Only a few years before, the Viet Cong were attacking isolated villages and hamlets with small groups of new local recruits. VC units were armed with spears, obsolete ries and whatever arms they could home manufacture or obtain from captured government stocks. Communist attacks in the early 1960s

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were frequent but minor. Acts of terror included the targeted assassination of local ofcials, thousands of whom died often brutal deaths. Military operations consisted mainly of the harassment of government forces, using the small arms and planted explosives available to the NLF. By 1965, however, NLF combat operations had undergone a dramatic transformation. Inltration from the North provided trained soldiers and a modest supply of arms. Very effective recruiting activities in the South expanded the size of the NLF despite very signicant battle-eld casualties. In 1961, company-size attacks by the VC were common but this was the limited of their operational capabilities. Four years later, despite the huge American counterinsurgency effort and the expansion of the ARVN, the NLF was conducting battalion-size operations throughout South Vietnam. With over a hundred thousand full-time soldiers, and for the rst time, reinforcement by North Vietnamese regular Army divisions, the communists looked capable of destroying entire South Vietnamese divisions. With the introduction of U.S. troops, the North Vietnamese Army, Peoples Army of Vietnam (PAVN) began to deploy below the 17th parallel demilitarized zone (DMZ). Operationally, by June of 1965, the situation looked quite desperate for the South Vietnamese. By June 1965, without major deployments of U.S. combat forces, it was apparent to many U.S. government observers that the ARVN would soon be overwhelmed and destroyed by the NLF and the PAVN.21 INITIAL DEPLOYMENTS The rst U.S. combat units arrived in early March 1965, to protect vulnerable U.S. military bases from incessant VC attacks. The introduction of combat forces was a dramatic development. For more than a decade of involvement in South Vietnam, successive presidential administrations had resisted the introduction of U.S. combat forces. For the military, the initial deployments were vital to protect the South from certain defeat. For civilians, the combat troops were considered more ominous portents of a future ground war, than a necessary stage in the escalation of the United States commitment. Chairman of the JCS, General Earle Wheeler asked MACV commander William Westmoreland if the situation in South Vietnam was close to collapse: I do not wish to harass you, and I recognize that the request made in cited message imposed a sizable task of analysis and study. Moreover, I understand the time-consuming activities falling to the lot of eld commanders. Nevertheless, as set forth in reference and

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in other messages over the past several months, there is growing concern here that VC inroadsterritory-wise, population-wise, and psychologicalare in fact destroying the fabric of South Vietnam. Those at highest level here wonder whether this erosion is reaching the point where, regardless of our actions against the DRV, the country will fall apart behind us.22 Whatever the views of military or civilian observers, by spring 1965 open discussions about the escalation of the war were becoming common in public. The deployments came quickly, adding more troops to where new troops had already arrived. From March to July 1965, the rst U.S. combat units were deployed in South Vietnam. The rst combat battalions were U.S. Marines, sent to secure the naval base at DaNang from NLF attacks.23 There was little public opposition in the United States over the initial movement of combat troops into the military theater of operations. Given the desperate plight of the GVN, and the increasing operations of U.S. airpower against both the NLF and North Vietnam, the need and legitimacy for the rst deployments faced no major challenge to civil-military relations. In response to the mortar attacks on the U.S. airbase at Pleiku in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam, President Johnson authorized the rst sustained program of bombing raids against the North. The program of graduated pressure was known as Rolling Thunder. The start of Rolling Thunder prompted the need for greater base security and the deployment of several thousand marines to DaNang. Despite the expanded military operations, including covert raids against North Vietnam, the attempted interdiction of communist supply lines and the new equipment supplied to the ARVN, the military situation in South Vietnam did not improve in spring 1965. In April, still more troops were requested by MACV commander Westmoreland. They were needed to attempt to stabilize a rapidly deteriorating combat environment. Those requests, for approximately 20,000 more troops, were granted quickly by Johnson. It was now apparent to Johnson and all of his closest advisors that the next move in Vietnam had to be a major commitment of forces. In February and March, Johnson and McNamara went on rounds of Vietnam information sessions with members of Congress, outlining the parameters for U.S. intervention in South Vietnam. Both the administration and the Congress had to contemplate a costly and long-term commitment to save South Vietnam. Over and over, Johnson and his secretary of defense dened the war in limited terms. Even if the Chinese Army moved south to defend North Vietnam, the Defense Department calculated that only six U.S. combat divisions would be needed to contain and defeat a Chinese invasion.24

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The most critical request for U.S. troops was issued at the beginning of June 1965. The famous Westmoreland 44 battalion request would set the protocol for the incremental expansion of U.S. ground forces in South Vietnam. The request for roughly doubling the number of U.S. troops in South Vietnam was made through CINCPAC Commander Admiral Ulysses S. Sharp, who endorsed Westmorelands assessment. The detailed analysis by MACV was premised on a need to hold the line against the expansion of both NLF and PAVN forces in the south. For the rst time, the North Vietnamese were deploying nearly full divisions, respectively, the PAVN 304th and 325th divisions. Westmoreland delineated force-level reinforcements for the entire country. In doing so, he established the rst plan for ongoing combat operations by battalion-size U.S. forces. STRATEGIC ARGUMENTS OVER INTERVENTION In the mid-1960s, the professional military was united on the strategic rationale for intervening in Indochina. The ranking ofces in all branches of the armed ofcers endorsed the strategic doctrine of the JCS. Namely, that the loss of Indochina to communist forces would have a severe detrimental impact on U.S. defense posture and that such an event should be avoided by all means necessary. The strategic necessity for intervention was a bedrock principle for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. There was no greater need, from the militarys perspective, than to protect the integrity of the containment system. Abandoning South Vietnam to its fate was unthinkable for both civilians and military ofcers. For the JCS, however, the impact of defeat in Indochina was of such grave consequence that virtually any means was considered acceptable to preserving the countrys base in Indochina and Southeast Asia. These views were made explicit many times from the Truman administration to the Johnson administration. The militarys strategic doctrine for Vietnam related it to the wider strategic concept for Southeast Asia: b. RVN is a military keystone in SEAsia and is symbolic of US determination in Asia. The United States is committed in the eyes of the world to the defense of RVN as a matter of national prestige, credibility, and honor with respect to world-wide pledges and declaratory national policy. c. SEAsia is strategically situated between Communist China and the Indian sub-continent and Australia. It is the southern anchor of the US and Free World defense posture in the Western Pacic. d. SEAsia is of unique economic importance as a major source of rice for the food decit countries of Asia and is among the worlds

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primary sources of natural rubber and tin. Control of the area, therefore, would not only be important to communist economic development, but would convey additional political leverage in dealing with countries which depend upon Southeast Asias resources.25 Strategic unity, however, did not mean equivalent unanimity in tactical doctrine. Preferred means of accomplishing the overarching strategic objective in Vietnam differed widely between the service branches. Interservice rivalry predicted different tactical doctrines based upon the capabilities and weapons systems of the respective branches of the armed forces. It came as no surprise that the Air Force believed in a greater reliance on bombing to demonstrate the utility of airpower in limited wars. Conversely, the Army always favored strategy that emphasized the efcacy of land power. It was no small wonder that U.S. Army doctrine favored large powerful maneuver battalions for search and destroy missions in Vietnam. Alternatively, the Marines advocated an adaptation of its small wars strategy; a method of intervention that was inconsistent with Army doctrine.26 Finally, the Navy had no institutional preferences for an Asian land war other than the effective use of naval resources. The U.S. Navy had formidable assets to deploy in the Indochina theater including its carrierbased airpower, and its ability to control the harbors and sea lanes that resupplied the North Vietnamese and the NLF forces in the South. The tactical rivalry between the Army and the Marine Corps did not concern the Navy so much as the net result of tactics and doctrine resulted in military victory. Whatever combination of tactical doctrines would hold the line against communist advance in Southeast Asia was the preference of the Navy. Yet, in the nal analysis, the professional armed forces were united in their support for war in Indochina to protect U.S. strategic interests. However, in operational terms, there was no unity, nor could there have been, given the separate capabilities and missions of the respective services. THE U.S. ARMY VIEW The proprietary nature of tactics was most apparent in the Armys role during Vietnam War. The U.S. Armys tactical doctrine was based on the Armys long experience in ghting land wars against powerful adversaries. Since MACV was under Army control, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the mid-1960s was an Army general, Army doctrine was to thoroughly dominate and shape the land campaign in

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Vietnam. Since the American Civil War, the U.S. Army practiced classic European land warfare, which emphasized powerful military units that employed superior force and numbers to destroy major concentrations of enemy forces. The Armys search and destroy strategy was an adaptation of traditional U.S. Army tactical doctrine to conditions in Vietnam. William Westmoreland, utilizing the Armys helicopter and ground support xed-wing aircraft, intended for Army forces to search out and destroy main force enemy units, intercept enemy supply lines and pacify enemy controlled villages by capturing and or destroying them. In an age of television warfare, the Armys methods had serious political costs that over time would endanger the survival of the Armys mission. Nonetheless, Westmoreland fought the war as a traditional conict, expecting to render the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong units combat ineffective and force a peace settlement. THE MARINE CORPS VIEW Wallace Green, Marine Corps Commandant in 1965, supported U.S. intervention apparently without dissent. Nonetheless, the Marines approached combat in South Vietnam from a different institutional perspective. The Marines were experts in small wars. Between World War I and the World War II, the Marine Corps had engaged in numerous overseas missions to pacify countries under U.S. occupation. The experiences of the Marines with the pacication of local populations, where their mission lasted a number of years, fashioned their counterinsurgency doctrine. The Marines saw South Vietnam as an opportunity to employ their tested pacication methods through a clear and hold strategy. The Marines were initially deployed along the central coast of Vietnam to secure DaNang and other coastal cities vital to the Navys mission in Indochina. General Greene envisioned an enclave strategy for South Vietnam. Marine and Army units would secure coastal areas and begin a long-term program of pacication in those areas. As additional reinforcements arrived, the combined Army and Marine forces would push north, south and inland, securing larger populated areas for pacication. Instead of searching for and engaging main force enemy units, the clear and hold doctrine emphasized the primary objective of pacication, and denying the enemy access to local populations.27 The Marine Corps doctrine was effective, but it never replaced the Clausewitzian land war strategy of the U.S. Army. Marine strategy also required many hundreds of thousands of troops, and a commitment of many years to achieve its objective of pacication. The political costs of

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the Marine Corps strategy were signicant, if not as great as those of the Armys way of war. THE AIR FORCE VIEW Air Force doctrine in Vietnam reected the lesson of airpowers military history. The rst sustained use of airpower was during the Second World War. Thousands of land- and sea-based bombers were deployed against primarily military and industrial targets against Axis countries. Airpower was decisive in naval warfare, destroying most of the surface eet of the Japanese Imperial Navy. The U.S. Army Air Force was effective in destroying lines of communication in both Europe and Asia and inicting very serious damage on transportation and industrial infrastructure. On the battleeld, airpower was deadly, destroying tank formations and giving preponderant advantage to whoever controlled the air. Finally, airpower was decisive against the Japanese in 1945, as waves of American bombers rebombed Japanese cities, and then with nuclear weapons, forcing Japan to surrender unconditionally.28 Air Force doctrine for Vietnam and Indochina was consistent with its operational experience during the Second World War and Korea. To minimize U.S. casualties and force an end to the conict in the shortest amount of time, Air Force generals recommended the broadest application of airpower directly against vital military and industrial targets in South Vietnam. The Air Force critique of Westmorelands June 1965 war plan was that it relied insufciently on Air Force assets. Westmorelands land-based strategy did not apply sufcient airpower to interdict enemy supply lines. Further, it left the enemys vulnerable industrial infrastructure largely intact, providing North Vietnam with little incentive to bring the conict to a quick end. In 1964, Curtis LeMay, strategic architect of the air war against Japan in 1945, and Air Force general chief of staff, designed an intensive thirteen-day bombing campaign against North Vietnam. He believed his massive assault with B-52 bombers against strategic targets in Hanoi, Haiphong and elsewhere, would force the North Vietnamese to the peace conference table. Later in the war, the Johnson administration adopted the Air Force strategy. It was to have serious effects on North Vietnamese morale and war ghting capability, but it did not bring the war to a conclusion. Still later in the conict, the Nixon administration deployed massive air strikes throughout Indochina. The Nixon administration did end the war with the aid of Air Force doctrine, but it did not win the conict. Once again, the political costs of conventional war reduced the ability of airpower to effect the overall strategic objectives of the United States in Indochina.29

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THE NAVY VIEW As mentioned earlier, since Vietnam was a land conict, U.S. Navy tactical doctrine was of marginal signicance. In addition to supporting the air war with carrier-based aircraft, the Navys role was to interdict communist boats along the coast, control the Gulf of Tonkin and threaten the sea lanes, gather intelligence through listening posts in international waters, and deploy gunboats in the Mekong delta to support land operations against the enemy. However, the Navy did not have a dominant role in the tactical doctrine of the war, since naval warfare involved principally ocean warfare. Operationally, MACV reported directly to CINCPAC, the chief of Naval operations in the Pacic. In this regard, the U.S. Navy as an institution supported the doctrines proposed by the Army, Air Force and Marines. Admiral Sharp, CINCPAC commander in 1965, supported the strategic view of the JCS and the operational views of MACV. The Navy was responsible for maintaining containment in the entire Indian Ocean and Pacic region; this encompassed 51 million square miles of ocean and approximately one quarter of the earths surface. To the degree that land and air war in Indochina supported the strategic objective of maintaining U.S. naval supremacy in the Pacic, the Navy supported the standard Clausewitzian orientation of the armed forces. In his Vietnam War memoir, Sharp represented his views of effective military force. He claimed he had always supported an extremely aggressive attack on North Vietnam, specically the harbors that were conduits for most of the supplies for the war effort: Repeatedly my messages, which the JCS supported, urged the aerial mining of the harbors of North Vietnam, but we were never able to get authorization. At long last, in 1972, President Nixon authorized the mining of those harbors. They were mined in a one-day operation and were closed to all shipping until we swept the mines in 1973, after the so-called truce. The mine-laying operation cost the United States less than a million dollars. Not a single person on either side was lost. Why didnt we do this in 1965? Or in 1967? Or in 1969?30 CIVILIAN PERSPECTIVES: CIA, PENTAGON, NSC, WHITE HOUSE Civilian perspectives on the ground war tended to support the political or managerial tracks. In particular, civilian ofcials who were responsible for political affairs, domestic or international, took a dour view of the escalating ground war. Since all news and military accounts

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of the situation in South Vietnam suggested a protracted and very costly conict, the dominant perception of civilian executive branch ofcers, was tepid support for a necessary engagement. Few argued in 1965 that Vietnam and the Indochina region as a whole were not important to the containment system. However, the aggressive and expensive strategies proposed by the generals and admirals seemed far too dangerous. Since State Department and White House executives were extremely sensitive to the political ramications of war, including the possible global effects of an aggressive ground and air war in Vietnam, civilian policy makers usually worked to oppose the consensus Clausewitzian view of the armed forces.31 Lyndon Johnsons proclivities were to steer between the dominant views of Vietnam War policy. On the one hand, he had advisors on the right who urged aggressive military action. On the left, however, politically oriented advisors rejected the strong military options, and favored equally aggressive politically oriented strategies. Military solutions proffered by the uniform services had impressive allies in the executive branch and legislative branches. Senior ofcials in the CIA, notably Director John McCone and Deputy Director Ray S. Cline, were very consistent in their critique of Johnsons administration policy. They fully supported the views of the JCS, recognizing that the limited air war that began in early 1965 would hardly force the North Vietnamese to the conference table. Over the course of the war, the CIA split over the conduct and necessity of the war, but in 1965, the agency supported the strong military option against the limited approach proffered by managerial internationalists.32 In Congress, pro-military views dominated the conservative wing of the Republican Party. In addition to Senator Goldwater, who inserted an avowedly Clausewitzian war strategy in the 1964 Republican platform, other military supporters were former vice-president Nixon, former president Eisenhower, the House Republican leader and future Vietnam War president Gerald Ford, and Strom Thurmond, a leading member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. These and other senators, and congressman mainly on the right, supported a strong military solution in Vietnam, despite the majority consensus that favored a managerial combined political-military approach to the war.33 While almost all State Department ofcers advocated for political and diplomatic tracks to achieve a successful outcome in Vietnam, an exception was W. W. Rostow, former deputy director of the National Security Council, and head of strategic planning for the State Department in 1965. Rostow was famous for his robust support for a military solution to the conict, whether through intensive bombing, a land invasion

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of the North, or some combination of expansive and costly military operations. While Rostow did not play a role in the July 1965 decisions to escalate the war, he left State in 1966 to become Johnsons NSC advisor. His star began to rise soon after the start of the major ground war, when Johnsons small circle of advisors soon became disenchanted with their incremental war policies. In the role of NSC advisor, replacing the dovish McGeorge Bundy, he was a rare civilian executive branch ally of the JCS. In institutional terms, the civilian Department of Defense supported a managerial approach to the war, balancing military strategy with political costs. The NSC staff, for the most part, oriented itself along the same managerial perspective, combining strong political tracks and nationbuilding initiatives with a constrained military strategy. State Department ofcials favored either the managerial or an overtly political approach to the war, making the militarys role purely secondary and under the strict control of the civilian branches of the government. For the military at all levels, from the eld to the roundtable of the JCS in Arlington, Virginia, the civilian concept for ghting the Vietnam War was anathema. With limited means, and strict rules of engagement, they were left with the task for conducting a major ground war against an indigenous, highly motivated, adaptable, and determined enemy. Using a vast wilderness and rural population to its advantage, as well as supply lines that ran through difcult unguarded terrain, including neutral Cambodia, the enemy could draw upon a large pool of irregular forces, as well as professional units from the North Vietnam, whose territory was largely off limits according to the political constraints imposed by Washington. Despite the massive resources at their disposal, the constraints imposed by the civilians infuriated senior military ofcers, who saw a very protracted engagement with serious problems, including the strength of political support for their campaign. JOHNSONS WAR: THE JULY 1965 DECISIONS In one sense, members of the senior ofcer corps of the U.S. armed forces were bystanders to the fateful strategy deliberations of July 1965. In another sense, they were very important actors within the political context of the intervention. Statutorily, the Chairman of the JCS in July 1965, Army General Earle Wheeler, was a key advisor to President Johnson. Wheeler participated, along with other senior advisors and cabinet members, in a series of decisive White House meetings on Vietnam at the end of July 1965. His advice, as well as that of the other members of the JCS, demonstrated a consistent view of the military leadership: that in

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order to save South Vietnam, a major plan of military action involving hundreds of thousands of U.S. forces had to be implemented immediately. In addition to the Westmoreland troop requests of June 1965, Johnson had been given numerous consistent recommendations from the JCS for military strategy in the Indochina theater. The president had listened attentively to the service chiefs, who summarized their arguments and answered pertinent questions. All of this is documented in the ofcial records of the Foreign Relations Series of the United States.34 Nonetheless, despite their consistent and repeated advice, the JCS did not fashion the strategic plan and tactical recommendations produced by the Pentagon. Civilian defense analysts in the Ofce of the Secretary of Defense produced the policy document that guided the U.S. ground war from July 1965 through the end of the Johnson administration. The ultimate policy pursued by Lyndon Johnson compromised the militarys inveterate beliefs in the use of decisive force. In recognition of the substantive concerns of political ofcials in both the executive and legislative branches, the nal policy document approved by Johnson was a perfect example of managerial internationalism. His strategy balanced political and military objectives with political and military means, thereby limiting military actions to satisfy the perceived needs of the global political track pursued by the White House. In doing so, the president appeared to obviate the military as a senior branch of the executive decision-making process. No matter what amount of force the military was authorized to use in Vietnam, everything it did was under civilian control. Ultimately, in the postwar military literature on the war, civilian constraints on military action became the sine qua non for explaining military defeat in South Vietnam. Yet, the victimization of the military as decision makers belies the historical context of the armed forces in the conduct of the Cold War. Without the impressive political support the JCS enjoyed in the conservative wing of the Congress, intervention in Vietnam in the mid-1960s would most likely have never occurred. President Johnson for one had a prescient foreboding of disaster for his policy. As early as 1964, Johnson is recorded expressing his deep fears of an intractable and un-winnable land war in Asia. Vietnam held no intrinsic interest for him, or for many left of center liberals who were his advisors. Indeed, conservative advisors, such as Senator Richard Russell of Georgia, a close condant of President Johnson, did all they could to prevent him from making his ultimate decision. There were many reasons for Johnson, as a liberal democrat, committed to a wide-ranging program of domestic reform, to have wanted to exit Vietnam irrespective of its fate at the hands of Ho

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Chi Minh. Yet, this neo-Wilsonian perspective on foreign policy was compromised by the political will of the military and the militarys allies in the Congress, who subscribed to an orthodox interpretation of the Cold War. For the military, abandoning South Vietnam in the mid-1960s was pure anathema. They made it very clear to the civilian leadership that such a policy would incur severe political reprisals. Indeed, contemplation of an exit strategy from South Vietnam was precluded in 1964 and 1965 by the military as an institution and its political base within the U.S. Congress and the American public. To lose Vietnam, as one former policy maker and Vietnam historian argued, was the political line that no American politician dared to cross. The escalation of the war began in earnest in summer 1965. It continued unabated until after the Tet Offensive of February 1968. The senior commanders of the U.S. armed forces were deeply troubled by Johnsons program. They continued to lobby the president for an expansionist Clausewitzian design for the war. The need was clear, from their point of view, to defend the containment line in South Vietnam. However, the strategic necessity had to be supported with the means to achieve victory. The troop commitment levels could prevent the fall of South Vietnam. However, in the long term, the limited war strategy envisioned by the managerial internationalists in the Pentagon and the NSC, was not a strategy for victory. The militarys consensus view was expressed in a Joint Staff study in July 1965. The military wanted an unrestricted air war against North Vietnam, including targeted bombing of the capital Hanoi, the major port of Haiphong, rail links to the Chinese border and if necessary the destruction of the dike system in the Red River Delta. All lines of communication and all military and industrial assets of the North Vietnamese were to be under the assault of the most massive air campaign since the Second World War. With the intensive air war, the ground campaign would include many hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops committed to search-and-destroy and pacication activities throughout Vietnam. If necessary, forces would be sent over the DMZ to challenge the PAVN on its own ground, well cutting supply lines to the South. Both Cambodia and Southern Laos would be subject to U.S. military action on the ground and the air. Finally, the U.S. Navy would use its air and surface eet and submarine forces to close down the North Vietnamese coast. This all-encompassing, integrated assault on the North Vietnamese and NLF was considered the only truly certain method of victory in Indochina. Needless to say, the JCS position was never considered seriously in 1965 by the Johnson administration or the Congressional leadership.

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In June 1965, Senator Manseld summarized the opinion of the dominant political wing in the Congress: The Senate cannot direct you in the conduct of foreign affairs even if it wanted to and I think you know that there is no substantial group in the Senate which is going to take the initiative in urging you to put more American ground forces into South Viet Nam. I think you know too, that what has been done to date in the way of resolutions, however one-sided the votes, has been done with grave doubts and much trepidation on the part of many Senators. It has been done largely on faith, out of loyalty to you and on the basis of the general view that when the President has the responsibility and when he requests legislative support in a crisis, he should have it.35 Manseld continued his long and unforgiving harangue of the intervention process. In the face of the hapless nature of the South Vietnam (SVN) government, and the stream of negative reports coming from the eld, his predilection to avoid war entirely was compromised by the rock hard opposition of the defense establishment, which saw absolutely no alternative but to escalate the war in 1965. Conversely, whatever plans the U.S. military could negotiate to ght the war in South Vietnam, it had to come to terms with the thinly veiled hostility of the Democratic leadership in the Senate. Johnson had his own limits with respect to the war, which was partly determined by the opposition in the Congress, but also by his own doubts about going to war. No matter what information the professional military could summon for its own strategy, it had to ght the war within the given political context of the civilian leadership. Overtime, as the war continued for seven years, Johnson and then Nixon gave the military increasing resources and wider freedom of action in the Indochina theater. Yet, as we shall see, the massive use of military force, complemented by intensive counterinsurgency operations and civilian aid programs, were still unable to accomplish the tactical objectives of the war that would lead to the paramount objective that American intervention was premised; the Republic of Vietnam would survive independent of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, depriving both China and the Soviet Union domination of the Indochina region. In the summer of 1965, as the country moved into a full-scale ground war in Indochina, civilian and military leadership were at odds over the character of the intervention, and even if the new war was necessary for U.S. security interests. This area of fundamental disagreement continued and magnied through the remainder of U.S. involvement, poisoning

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U.S. civil-military relations for the better part of a decade. Yet, the policy documents from the period reveal that the leadership groups were trapped. They were committed by their own institutional interests, ideologies and self-dened political realities to wage a bureaucratic war against each other, while engaging the enemy in a very deadly, albeit limited, war in Indochina.

3
Operations: Part I
MILITARY ORGANIZATION IN THE SOUTHEAST ASIA THEATER Military power in modern states has always been applied through organizational controls. In the case of the Vietnam War, the deployment of military power was carefully controlled from White House to the eld. In the beginning, as noted in chapter 2, the commitment to Vietnam and Indochina was quite modest. The Truman administration had created the Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) in 1950 to supervise U.S. military assistance to the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces (RVNAF). The rst budget was on the order of $10 million, and only fty advisors were dispatched to Vietnam. By 1955, consistent with the expansion of U.S. presence in South Vietnam, MAAG was expanded to approximately 650 advisors, a limit imposed by the 1954 Geneva protocols. In 1962, in recognition of the expanded advisory responsibilities of the United States, MAAG was incorporated into the newly formed Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV). The rst commander was General Paul Harkins, a protg of General Maxwell Taylor, former chairman of the JCS and key military advisor to President Kennedy. Harkins, and later his successors, Generals William Westmoreland and Creighton Abrams, reported to the commander in chief of the Pacic (CINCPAC). In effect, the military command in Vietnam was under the control of an Army general who in turn reported to a very senior naval ofcer, the commander of all armed forces in the Pacic region including the formidable U.S. Navys Pacic Fleet.1

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From CINCPAC, the chain of command led directly to the JCS and then to the Secretary of Defense. Administratively, civilian control of all U.S. military operations rested with the President who delegated his authority to his staff and the Secretary of Defense. Hence, the U.S. retaliatory strike against North Vietnam in August 1964 in response to the Gulf of Tonkin incidents was sent from the White House and executed in the Indochina eld of operations through CINCPAC and MACV. All military actions from bombing sorties to ground troop deployments throughout the region were initialed by the White House. General Westmorelands famous request for forty-four battalions in June 1965 was consulted through the chain of command and submitted ultimately to the White House for executive authority. The organization of military authority, strictly hierarchal and consistent with U.S. constitutional law, suggested to some historians of the Vietnam War that the military had little input or control over the character of war. In fact, the administrative structure of decision making does not reveal the political nature of military policy during the 1960s. The gradual escalation of the Vietnam War under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson reected a very complex bureaucratic compromise between competing visions of Vietnam and Cold War policy. As noted earlier, unity of command was not practiced in the Indochina theater of operations. Air operations were divided between the Air Force Pacic Command, the Strategic Air Command and the Navys Pacic Command. Covert CIA operations did not report to the MACV commander, nor did third-country forces deployed in South Vietnam. Combat restrictions, however, were applied to military forces by the White House. During the Johnson administration the chain of command enforced strict rules of engagement that limited the scope of U.S. military operations in Indochina. Bombing restrictions included within a thirtymile radius of Hanoi and ten miles of Haiphong harbor. Johnson prohibited U.S. ground forces in Laos, North Vietnam or Cambodia. Despite military recommendations, Johnson did not mine the North Vietnamese coast or attack Chinese manned antiaircraft installations. Throughout the Johnson administrations extensive bombing campaign in the North, strict guidelines sought to limit civilian casualties. This was true even though the magnitude and adverse conditions of the bombing made civilian losses unavoidable. The election of Richard Nixon led to a substantial change in those rules of engagement. Nixon ordered the military to conduct increasingly aggressive, wide-ranging attacks on the PAVN, the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) and the North Vietnamese homeland. Military operations were approved for both Laos and Cambodia. During the spring 1972 North Viet-

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namese offensive in the South, Nixon ordered the mining of Haiphong in addition to bombing PAVN sites in both North and South Vietnam. At the end of 1972, faced with an intractable North Vietnamese negotiating position, Nixon ordered, through his command structure, the most intense urban bombing campaign since the Second World War. Despite serious difculties with the assignment, including morale problems, the professional command structure executed Nixons orders. In the nal analysis, all military action conducted by the United States represented the orders and actions of the President of the United States. Sworn to obey the constitutional authority of the executive branch, the professional military had no other purpose than to fulll the orders directed from the White House. DEPLOYMENT LEVELS Through two and a half decades of operations in Indochina, beginning with rst MAAG mission during the Truman administration, the U.S. command structure remained essentially constant. The regional commands reported to the Pacic Command, which in turn reported to the JCS, the Secretary of Defense and nally the White House. What changed over decades were the levels of deployment; numbers that were always found in media reports, which reected the intensity of the U.S. commitment to the region. During the Vietnam War, troop deployments always implied political decisions that compromised military and civilian perspectives over military strategy. From 50 advisors in 1950, to 650 in 1955, to 16,000 in 1963, rising deployment remained a product of military requests compromised by civilian decisions to limit costs and perceived risks. By the summer of 1965, some 75,000 U.S. military personnel had been deployed or were in the process of being deployed to the Indochina theater of operations. The incremental escalation of the war, and the careful documentation of that escalation, was a critical political and strategic issue. In the historiography of the conict, troop levels were signposts to the Vietnam Wars progress.2 The number of troops and the types of units available in-country determined precisely what operations MACV was capable of. Prior to 1965, MACV and its predecessor MAAG had no signicant ground capability. The most the U.S. could do was orchestrate the ground war against the NLF by the ARVN. Since the ARVN was poorly led and motivated, the net effectiveness of MACV was quite small. With the beginning of major combat deployments in 1965, the United States took a quantum jump in its ability to control events on the ground. With ARVN assistance, U.S. forces coordinated search-and-destroy missions that challenged the viability of the NLF and the emerging presence of the PAVN.

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As more and more troops and resources were deployed into the Indochina region, U.S. capabilities against the NLF and North Vietnam increased commensurately. Communist losses mounted under the massive air attacks and armor sweeps throughout South Vietnam. The use of American airpower against the North incurred serious damage on the North Vietnamese economy and the national morale. Nonetheless, despite years of intensive combat operations, the U.S. did not quite break the North Vietnamese war effort. With the deployment of over 500,000 troops came the huge political costs of a domestic and international antiwar movement.3 The Nixon administration began the long de-escalation of the war. Troop levels dropped over the entirety of Nixons rst term, dropping to almost zero. By the end of 1972, no U.S. combat units remained in South Vietnam. With the withdrawals, the political costs of the war dropped commensurately. The policy of Vietnamization was designed specically to reduce the political costs of the war. To preserve the Republic of Vietnam (RVN) as an ally in the Cold War, the only viable solution for the U.S. military was to dramatically increase the operational capabilities of the South Vietnamese armed forces.4 As major U.S. troop withdrawals were announced in 1969 and 1970, under considerable public and Congressional pressures, the mission of the U.S. military was threefold. First, search-and-destroy missions continued, with expanded operations in Cambodia, Laos and North Vietnam. Second, with the ARVN and its special counterinsurgency forces, pacication activities increased signicantly, in a broad attempt to destroy the political infrastructure of the NLF in the South. Finally, the ARVN and the other branches of the South Vietnamese armed forces were trained to undertake both conventional and unconventional military operations independent of U.S. forces. This nal step was critical if South Vietnam was to survive at all once U.S. and other allied troops were withdrawn.5 When the number of U.S. forces dropped to insignicant levels, the militarys political weakness vis--vis the Congress and the antiwar movement did not lessen. Faced with the task of supporting an ally that had very little genuine commitment from the Congress, the Pentagon, the JCS and the White House struggled to maintain the South Vietnamese government against serious odds for its survival. In the end, however, the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops was an untenable position for the Republic of Vietnam. The end of U.S. involvement did not lead to victory. MACV, no matter what its intentions, had been unable to turn the South Vietnamese military into the tough, disciplined and motivated organization that its adversary, the PAVN, had proven to be. Without the continued deployment of U.S. combat units in South Vietnam, the war was lost.

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This was apparent in the spring of 1975, but no amount of pleading by the military or the Ford Administration stood the remotest chance of changing the minds of Congress and the public, who refused to save South Vietnam from its fate.6 THE SOCIOLOGY OF THE VIETNAM WAR The sociological aspects of the Vietnamese-American conict involved a complex interchange between societies that existed in separate parts of the world, and whose historical and cultural backgrounds were radically different from one another. In addition to its intercultural aspects, the sociological dimensions of the war involved profound pressures on institutions and cultures within the United States as well in Southeast Asia. Civil-Military relations are by denition a eld of sociology. The sociology of the Vietnam War involved signicant changes in both military and civilian cultures, and how they related to one another. The conict coincided and was a major catalyst for the political and social revolutions that impacted upon not only American society but global culture and society as well. The war coincided with the modern African American civil rights movement, which became deeply confrontational at the same time that Lyndon Johnson ordered the escalation of the war in 1965. By 1968, the United States was in the throes of a social and political revolution. Wide-ranging changes in social mores, as well as political, social and economic rights, coincided with a massive antiwar protest movement that derailed Johnsons Vietnam War policy, and led his successor, Richard Nixon, to fashion a plan based solely on a proper exit strategy for the country.7 Indeed, there were many levels to the social and cultural aspects of the war. On one level, the conduct of the war produced major effects in both Indochina and in the United States. To a degree, all military conicts transcend the battleeld and the diplomatic exchanges that mark their beginnings and ends. The war in Vietnam was not just a military and geopolitical conict. It was also an encounter between different cultures, both Southeast Asian and American. Both Vietnamese and American societies were complex multiethnic social systems. As one would expect for a conict that extended over a decade and involved vast sectors of the population of both societies, the wars social impact was profound. Both societies, Indochinese and American, were affected deeply by the destruction and cross-cultural encounters. In the end, the Vietnam War produced wide-ranging trauma as well as structural change to all the groups involved in it.8

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For Vietnam, the affected groups included the Viet Cong, the broad communist movement in the South; the major minority groups in Vietnam, the Indo-Malay tribes of South Vietnams Central Highlands, the Khmer or Cambodian minority of the Mekong Delta region, the ethnic Chinese who dominated economic activity in Saigon, Vietnamese Catholics, who were predominantly anticommunist, the Buddhist community, and the various cults or religious sects that emerged in the twentieth century as a product of Vietnams encounter with the West. This intricate panoply of ethnic, religious and political divisions shaped the nature of U.S. intervention. For Vietnam and Indochina the sociological impact of the war went beyond the victory of communism.9 For the United States, the sociology of the conict included the effect the war had on the common soldier. The war produced hundreds of thousands of psychiatric casualties. Political issues that intersected with the wars sociology included the domestic effects of the vast antiwar movement, which underlay the cultural changes of the Vietnam War era, when every major American institution underwent forms of de-legitimization. In very concrete ways, the war had a profound effect on the sociology of American culture. THE ENEMY In Indochina, the nature of the enemy was the most important challenge to the U.S. military. Although the U.S. Army and Marines had fought irregular forces or counterinsurgency campaigns since the earliest days of the republic, never had they faced an adversary with such extraordinary organizational skills, logistical and intelligence capabilities as the Viet Cong. For U.S. intelligence, the nature of the Viet Cong, its political, social and military organization was a major object of study. From eld intelligence including captured VC and VC documents, a complex portrait of the enemy emerged. Douglas Pikes Viet Cong remains a landmark study of the Viet Cong organization of the mid- and late 1960s. U.S. intelligence had a detailed understanding of the nature of both the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese command structures, political support in the South and clandestine resistance activities. There was no misunderstanding in the U.S. military with respect to the formidable psychological and organizational assets available to the enemy.10 What made the NLF and the North Vietnamese such extraordinary enemies was the immense clandestine system that supported their operations. The NLF was run by highly disciplined, dedicated and determined revolutionaries. They were willing to sustain enormous losses, and make profound sacrices in lives to accomplish their long-term goal. Their mili-

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tary and political mission was a classical one in Vietnamese history. The NLF and their dominant allies in North Vietnam were completely committed to the liberation of their homeland from foreign domination. Heirs to the millennial traditions of Vietnamese clandestine resistance, they were eminently successful in building and maintaining an effective political organization in South Vietnam. The country had forty-one provinces composed of more than 200 local districts. Through every province and district, NLF political ofcers coordinated the recruitment and retention of VC soldiers. NLF spies and supporters were everywhere in the South, despite the repressive measures of the GVN and its police and security services. No matter how powerful and skilled the U.S. forces were at engaging and defeating VC combat units, the overall organization survived, and regenerated its forces. Sophisticated recruitment and intelligence networks enabled the VC to continually rebuild, no matter what level of damage was done to their military forces and infrastructure. Despite the massive search-and-destroy operations that characterized the U.S. ground war, the dogged determination of the Southern party and the national government in the North refused to allow the ARVN and the U.S. win. Despite the deployment of over one million soldiers, ARVN, the United States and other allied countries, and the VC and North Vietnamese were able to maintain effective military forces capable of inicting serious losses on their adversaries. The typical VC soldier was barely ve-feet tall and weighed a hundred pounds. His health and nutritional status was quite marginal, which was understandable given the conditions that VC units endured in the eld. The communist forces were under constant threat of attack by highly mobile and lethal air and ground units, including the intercontinental B-52 bomber, U.S. and ARVN jet strike ghters, and heavily armored tanks and armored personnel carriers. Despite massive technological superiority, VC and PAVN units subsisted in remote areas with local supplies and limited arms and reinforcements through the famous Ho Chi Minh trail. The trail, originally a bicycle path through the dense highland forests straddling the Vietnamese border, was widened into a two-lane highway by the early 1970s. Intensive bombing by the U.S. Air Force failed to cut off this vital supply route. Whenever portions of the supply system was disrupted by U.S. strikes, communist engineering battalions would go to work immediately, restoring not only the trail, but the roadwork and bridges in North Vietnam that were essential parts of the supply system. After extensive technical study, the Pentagon concluded as early as the fall of 1966, that supply interdiction would never defeat the PLA and PAVN forces in the South. The communist forces required as little as fteen tons of material a day to sustain their forces in the South.11

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U.S. policy makers and senior military ofcers never underestimated the tenacity and lethality of the communist forces. Both VC and PAVN units were capable of savage reprisals against South Vietnamese populations that supported the government. A routine reprisal against progovernment villages was political assassination. The torture and killing of local government ofcials, including village school teachers, was a common PLF strategy to intimidate hostile or disloyal populations. During the 1968 Tet Offensive, three thousand government collaborators were killed by VC units during the famous battle of Hue. The cruelty of NLF reprisals against civilians was soon matched by the ARVN and U.S. forces who waged terrifying counterinsurgency assaults against areas controlled by the Viet Cong.12 Despite casualty levels that would have eliminated other armies and resistance movements, the Vietnamese communists maintained a remarkable ability to recover from enormous battleeld losses. New recruits were found in southern areas under NLF control, or former southerners were repatriated from North Vietnam to join the ranks of the VC. While the NLF were clearly severely damaged over the course of the war with the United States and the ARVN, their survival, grounded in an unbreakable will to resist, never seemed open to doubt. The indomitable nature of the enemy became a major source of contention in the debate between civilian and military policy makers. Civilian ofcials, especially in the White House and the legislative branch, always doubted the possibility that U.S. forces could win against an enemy that could survive and recover as well as the VC and the PAVN. On the other hand, senior military ofcers in all branches of the armed services believed that the total application of U.S. military power could have won the military campaign. The dominant military view always maintained that the Vietnam War was not lost because of the nature of the enemy, but by the failure of American strategy and political will to defeat the VC and the North Vietnamese.13 In the aftermath of the conict, William Westmoreland blamed the mass media and the antiwar movement for the loss of the war. Despite the impressive victories against the best units the communists could put in the eld, the ability to wage war was constrained by a Congress and a public unwilling to provide sufcient resources and range of action to win a decisive victory. Other historians have suggested that the war had been won by the early 1970s; it was only the lack of an ability to support the victory that allowed the North Vietnamese and the NLF to regain the initiative and defeat the South Vietnamese who were abandoned to their fate.14 Over the course of more than a decade, the VC or the NLF were able to adapt to intensive conventional and unconventional military operations by

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the United States designed to defeat it. The Phoenix program, implemented by the CIA in the late 1960s, was particularly effective in rooting out the extensive NLF infrastructure in the Mekong Delta. By the end of major U.S. involvement in 1973, most of the Mekong region had been pacied through the village level counterinsurgency methods employed by Phoenix. Nonetheless, despite the loss of most of its cadre in the Mekong, and the relatively weak state of its military units in the central highlands of South Vietnam, the NLF continued to resist the forces of the South Vietnamese government. Their more numerous and far better armed cohorts, the PAVN, maintained forward deployment in northern sectors of the South, despite the huge combat losses suffered from the mid-1960s to the Paris Peace Accords in 1973. More than any other factor, the tenacity of the Vietnamese communists, the product of both Marxist-Leninist discipline and millennia-old Vietnamese military practice, enabled them to endure, while their Western adversary could not. Vietnamese military historians summarized these ideas in their ofcial history of the PAVN. They pointed to the elemental role of the communist party and Vietnamese history and culture: Looking back over its (the Vietnamese communist party) historic journey from the date of its formation (December 1944) until it brought a victorious end to the resistance war (April 1975), from the battles of Phai Khat and Na Ngan to the historic Ho Chi Minh campaign, our army, under leadership of the Party, fullled every one of its duties toward the nation and fully carried out its international duties toward our friends and neighbors. Our cadre and soldiers are profoundly grateful to the leadership of the Party, the work and the teachings of Uncle Ho, the support of our compatriots throughout the nation, and for the assistance of our international brothers and friends.15 With respect to U.S. civil-military relations, the concept of the enemy was a critical point of debate. For military ofcers, responsible for day to day operational as well as longer-term strategic analysis of the Vietnamese communists, the enemy was determined, ruthless and beguiling. Since the Diem period, the North Vietnamese and the NLF were responsible for countless thousands of assassinations against South Vietnamese ofcials and individuals associated with the national government. Decades of studies by U.S. intelligence and political analysts had come to the same seemingly incontrovertible conclusion: Communist ideology, based upon Marxist-Leninism, was rigid and totalitarian, whether it was practiced in the Soviet Union, any of the Soviet satellite states, in Cuba, China

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or Indochina. The serious split within the worldwide communist movement notwithstanding, Marxist-Leninist practice and doctrine united communist movements around the world. It was not exceptional, from a doctrinal point of view, that the PAVN and the PLA were willing to sacrice entire divisions in combat to achieve military objectives. Since Leninist doctrine was premised on ends justifying the means, the loss of individual lives was acceptable. Given the extraordinary nature of an enemy who was immune to internal public opinion and was willing to inict whatever punishment necessary on resistant civilian populations, most U.S. military observers and active duty ofcers believed the enemy had to be dealt with in classic military terms. For civilian observers and policy makers, the militarys concept of its adversary was a point of sharp contention. On one hand, there were a signicant number of civilians who supported the war and the militarys general point of view. Pro-war civilian society was found in the most conservative regions of the country. The governor of California, Ronald Reagan, was a vocal supporter of the military and the military realist view of the war. Conservative members of Congress, military families, refugees from the communist world, aggressive anticommunist factions in all areas of American society viewed the enemy in demonic terms. For the avowedly pro-war sector of American society, the Viet Cong were no more than terrorists, the North Vietnamese no more than agents of the international communist movement. From this perspective, the proper response was a war of annihilation waged with the full resources of the U.S. armed forces.16 The extreme pro-war ideology never had more than a signicant minority support in the United States. More centrist views of the war tempered a natural rejection of communism as totalitarianism with a dose of modern political realism. The majority of the Congress and the public supported the war with certain political restraints on the use of force. The enemy was seen as hard and duplicitous, but not without a basis of support among the civilian population in the South. Congressional leaders and civilians in the executive branch viewed the social and political basis of the insurgency seriously. They recognized the historical context of the war and how it placed the United States at a serious disadvantage. Civilian leaders emphasized the political costs of the war, both in the United States and around the world. The efcacy of strong military action was weighed against the potential consequences of such a response, including a much wider and destabilizing war that could include China.17 Beyond the moderate political critique of the Clausewitzian response to Vietnam, an ever expanding domestic antiwar movement viewed the enemy in very different terms. The antiwar movement, which emerged

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nationally in 1965, drew many millions of supporters and sympathizers by the end of the decade. In their view, which had increasing power in the Congress, the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese were rst and foremost legitimate nationalists resisting a foreign power. In contrast to the armed forces, who were tasked with the defeat of this enemy, the antiwar movement began to view the enemy more as heroes. This was especially true of the antiwar intellectuals who populated leading U.S. and international universities. In the framework of the antiVietnam War movement, the Viet Cong were often romanticized as defenders of impoverished villagers. On the other hand, the U.S. military was portrayed as the true terrorists, practitioners of a new kind of hi-tech genocide.18 The antithetical view the VC and North Vietnamese was best exemplied by acts of public sympathy, such as the actress Jane Fonda visiting North Vietnam in 1972 and having her picture taken on an antiaircraft battery. Other acts that challenged the view of the Vietnamese communists as adversaries included proViet Cong marches with pictures of Ho Chi Minh and the NLF ag. Of course, these acts were extreme. In between the extreme left and the extreme pro-war right, a large middle ground in the United States had a complex picture of the enemy that included the demonic as well as the historical context of Vietnam as a postcolonial Asian society. As the war progressed under increasing pressure from the civilian antiwar movement, the military remained wedded to the objectives that established U.S. combat involvement. With some notable exceptions, senior military ofcers and members of the JCS retained their uncompromising image of the enemy throughout the war. The military required the image of the enemy as cruel and duplicitous to support their strategic and tactical objectives. The military leadership had differing views of what strategy would ultimately defeat the North Vietnamese and the NLF. Yet, at bottom, all believed in increasing resources and freedom of operation. Postwar analyses of the conict by professional military historians have not contradicted the beliefs of the eld commanders. In his famous analysis of the war, Colonel Harry Summers, saw the military as trapped by the failure of civilian policy makers to grasp the nature of a protracted land conict, and the nature of an adversary who could recover as long as there were limits placed on the U.S. response. Nonetheless, civilian antiwar leaders, prominent in the Senate and House of Representatives, emphasized different aspects of the enemy. The Viet Cong were not a threat to the physical security of the United States, they argued. The use of horric weapons, such as heavy bombers, cluster bombs, helicopters and artillery upon lightly armed village peasants demonstrated the rigid and perhaps farcical position of military

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ofcers, who somehow continued to believe that the loss of South Vietnam meant the loss of large areas of Asia. Civilian leaders who took a political view of the war never accepted the predominant strategic views of the senior ofcer corps. The elite views of the U.S. armed forces were perceived as extremist, not only with respect to Vietnam, but to the Cold War in general. This gap, cultural and ideological, determined the contrasting images of the communist enemy in Vietnam, and the nature of the policy debate between civilians and the military.19 MINORITY GROUPS From the very beginning of U.S. engagement in Indochina, military and civilian decision makers were aware of the political divisions within the region. These divisions both helped and hindered U.S. actions. The political structure of South Vietnam, divided along religious and ethnic lines, was a critical factor in both military operations and nation building. For counterinsurgency operations especially, the diverse non-Vietnamese tribes who inhabited most of the highlands of the South, were of particular importance to U.S. special forces. What most contemporary and many historical observers of the Vietnam War do not realize, is how diverse Vietnam and Indochina was. The Vietnamese dominated the rice growing regions of the deltas and coastal areas. They were the majority of the population in the country as a whole, but through large areas of the mountainous interior, the Montagnards, French for mountain people, were living on land that their ancestors had inhabited for centuries or millennia. More than thirty Mon Khmer and Malay-Polynesian tribes lived in the interior areas of both North and South Vietnam. In the South, U.S Special forces were very successful organizing many of the district tribes into progovernment military units. Throughout the war in the South, Montagnard tribesmen were mobilized into the Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG). The CIDG eventually reached a full strength of 60,000 men, and were highly effective ghting alongside U.S. and ARVN units against the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese.20 In addition to the Montagnards, other important groups in South Vietnamese society included Catholics, Buddhists, Cao Dai and Hoa Hao religious sects, ethnic Chinese and Cambodians. Vietnamese Catholics were a key progovernment constituency. Although they represented no more than 10 percent of the Souths population, their erce opposition to the communists made them a dominant group in the South Vietnamese Army and government. The Nhu family, which ruled the South for eight years after the Geneva Accords were devout Catholics. It was also true

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that other prominent members of the southern leadership, during and after the Diem regime, were Catholic. A key area of conict in South Vietnam was between the Catholics and the Buddhists. Buddhists were by far the largest religious group in Vietnam. Their usual political position was neutrality in the war between the NLF and the South Vietnamese government. However, independent of their views on the NLF and the future of Vietnam, Buddhist leaders demanded freedom from government interference, and political equality with the Catholics in the national government. The Buddhists were constantly at odds with the national government, routinely making demands in public speeches, for greater representation in the South Vietnamese assembly.21 In fact, the Buddhists, who had considerable clout in specic provinces, were at odds with both the atheist communist movement and the non-Buddhist South Vietnamese government. They were instrumental in overthrowing the Diem regime in 1963 and remained a belligerent antigovernment group through all of Diems successors. For MACV, with the exception of the half million or so Montagnards, the various political groups in the South were primarily seen as impediments to the war effort. The constant power struggles between the various groups had a disastrous effect on the South Vietnamese to ght a war of national survival against a very disciplined and formidable foe. The diversity of South Vietnamese society was yet another burden of proof for MACV and the White House, to justify the war to an increasingly skeptical Congress. THE PSYCHOLOGY OF WAR War has always been a psychological event. All the great military theorists, including Clausewitz and Sun Tzu, and all the great generals, from Alexander the Great to Frederick IX, Robert E. Lee and George S. Patton, understood that the nature of military conict involved the psychology of strategy and the soldier. In psychological terms, the Vietnam War worked at the level of statesmanship, the level of eld commanders, at the group level and the level of soldiers and common people. All levels of psychological warfare were deemed critically important to the prosecution of the war. This was true of both communist and free world commanders, as well as foot soldiers, antiwar protesters and by all participants in the conict. Both civilian and military leaders in the United States understood that the critical variable for victory was to break the will of the North Vietnamese. This could be accomplished, they thought, through various military pressures and by success in the South. Such success was depend-

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ent upon achieving the defeat of the enemy on the battleeld, and in the hearts and minds of the South Vietnamese. The psychological dimensions of the war encompassed all these aspects. The war entailed the psychology of pacication, troop morale, the global propaganda war and nally, the inner reality of the major decision makers themselves.22 On a global level, psychological warfare took the form of competing images and rhetoric broadcast to constituencies on every continent. For the United States, maintaining the psychological advantage in domestic public opinion was critical. With the mass media reporting daily on massive destruction of villages and towns, civilian casualties and American war dead and wounded, the battle for moral high ground against the enemy became an ever-greater challenge. As the war progressed, the antiwar movement pressured the minds of not only national decision makers but also military leaders in the eld, who had to cope with serious morale problems related to the war and its representation to the public. The ongoing challenges and assaults on the legitimacy of the war undermined the military necessity for maintaining national political will to ensure unremitting pressure on the North Vietnamese and their allies. In the early years of the Nixon administration, the aggressive air war and counterinsurgency operations of the U.S. military inicted serious damage on the PAVN, the PLA and North Vietnamese society. Nonetheless, the war was lost in the most important arena of all, the psychological reality of the American public. With crumbling political resolve, success on the battleeld was meaningless. COUNTERINSURGENCY DOCTRINE AND PRACTICE A principal component of CI practice and doctrine was also psychological warfare. The idea behind CI was simple in theory, but complex in its full application. General William Westmoreland, MACV commander and architect of the ground war, said famously that the war would be won by winning the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese people. Of course, the same idea resonated with NLF commanders and indeed with unconventional warfare practiced all over the world. The idea was elemental. The basis of victory in a conict that entailed large-scale civilian participation was control over civilian populations. In the absence of sheer terror and wholesale atrocities to inspire fear, civilians in Vietnam had to believe in the goals and methods of the allies. If civilians as in previous wars in Asia and other continents sided with the insurgents, the prospects of permanent victory would prove illusory.23 Counterinsurgency as practiced by the U.S. Army for most of the war did little to win popular support. While some special operations ofcers

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practiced their own forms of pacication, which relied on the idea of building local bases of support to resist the NLF, the Army remained wedded to traditional operational methods. The ARVN, trained by the U.S. Army, focused on engaging the main force units of the PLA and the PAVN and defeating them decisively. Alternatively, the CIA, along with their South Vietnamese counterparts, developed a new counterinsurgency campaign during the Nixon administration. The Phoenix program involved small combat teams to inltrate NLF controlled villages to attempt to ush out the political cadres who kept the village as part of the communist resistance. Practiced for several years, until the withdrawal of U.S. forces in 1973, the truly unconventional program yielded excellent results, especially in the Mekong Delta. By the end of U.S. military involvement, the Viet Cong could eld only a few dozen operational combat battalions in South Vietnam. In total, they represented just 25,000 combat troops facing the combined million-man force of the RVNAF.24 For the entire length of the conict, U.S. psychological warfare ofcers worked relentlessly on ways to gain support from the civilian population. CI practice included numerous ways of indoctrinating local populations to support the GVN and oppose the communists. Modernization theory, a darling of 1950s and 1960s American social science, informed the methodology of the military and the CIA in promoting the fundamental legitimacy of the GVN. Leaets, dropped by air or handed out to villagers, instructed them in Vietnamese how the government and the United States would help provide their needs as long as they remained loyal and resisted the recruitment efforts of the communists. From the 1950s through the 1970s, extensive humanitarian aid programs were in place to support rural hamlets. The U.S. government, as part of its psychological war effort, provided South Vietnam with thousands of schools, millions of textbooks, free medicine and health clinics, food and agricultural assistance. All this vast effort, implemented by various military and civilian departments of the U.S. government, were designed for their psychological effect on the populace.25 At the same time that pacication/modernization efforts were underway in the South other methods of psychological warfare were used against the North. Punishing assaults on North Vietnams industry and transportation sectors were designed to weaken the psychological motives for the North to continue the war. To the chagrin of most senior military ofcers, the psychological effects of the bombing delivered to White House approved targets did not inict sufcient psychological distress to bring the North Vietnamese to the conference table. For bombing to be sufciently devastating to a countrys morale, according to most

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military analysts, it had to be delivered so relentlessly and with such intensity that the enemy had to believe that his countrys very survival was at stake. Since there were limits to the bombing campaign, the North Vietnamese, while under serious pressure, were able to adapt enough to survive the onslaught. In turn, the North Vietnamese used the attacks on their cities as potent psychological warfare tools. It was with little difculty that the North Vietnamese were able to disseminate images of American brutality to the worlds newspapers and electronic mass media. The psychological warfare component of the bombing was immediately returned to the United States as global propaganda against it in the sphere of international public opinion. Whatever psychological and material costs the United States inicted on the North with its airpower was offset by the psychological and ultimately political costs of that use of force on the legitimacy of the war in world and U.S. public opinion. Psychological damage was done to Viet Cong populations in the South, who saw their ancestral villages destroyed, and many of their young men killed or imprisoned in counterinsurgency search and destroy sweeps by the United States and the ARVN. Serious psychological damage was also incurred by North Vietnamese hamlets, villages and towns, whose civilian populations absorbed the effects of massive bombing raids on military and industrial targets. The collateral damage from Rolling Thunder, conducted from 1965 to 1968, was very signicant but not catastrophic. Hundreds of thousands of sorties over three years resulted in perhaps fty thousand civilian deaths in North Vietnam, out of a population of 18 million. Yet, the tens of thousands of dead, the many more wounded and traumatized, as well as the effect of the enormous military casualties from ghting in the South, established profound psychological punishments for North Vietnamese; a level of trauma that they shared with other countries who had experienced the horrors of twentieth century warfare.26 THE AMERICAN SOLDIER IN VIETNAM Duty for American soldiers during the Vietnam War was challenging on many levels. Combat conditions were very hazardous. Soldiers had to cope with tropical heat, diseases, and a mysterious and seemingly indomitable enemy. Despite an enormous logistical supply line that provisioned a million tons of food, oil, weapons and ammunition per day over 10,000 miles of ocean, the average soldier in the eld lived day to day. Several million soldiers served in Vietnam from the early 1960s to the early 1970s. Contrary to popular belief, most enlisted personnel were

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voluntary enlistees rather than drafted. 648,000 or 25 percent of U.S. forces in-country were draftees. In contrast, fully 66 percent of World War II soldiers were drafted. Tours of duty were limited to one year. On occasion, soldiers volunteered for more than one tour. U.S. ofcers were both conscripted and professional career soldiers. For career soldiers, combat duty in Southeast Asia was essential for career advancement. From a sociological viewpoint, the U.S. military was a fair cross-section of American society. Some sectors of society were overrepresented in the military, and others underrepresented, but the conscript nature of the military during the Vietnam erathat is, the universal service obligation required of young adult U.S. malespreserved the diversity of the armed forces during the conict.27 Overall, the Vietnam combat soldier was better educated and of higher socioeconomic status than the average American citizen. Four fths of U.S. soldiers in Vietnam had high school degrees. Three fourths were from blue collar or middle class families. Postwar interviews suggest that the vast majority of soldiers supported the war during their tours of duty and after they returned to the United States. Some 90 percent of U.S. combat veterans are proud of their service in the conict. Finally, four-fths of U.S. Vietnam combat veterans believe the war was lost because the United States lacked the political will to defeat its adversary. Postwar statistics that show overwhelming support for the war, underestimate the damage to the military and to military-civilian relations as a result of it. The nature of civilian-military relations during the war was problematic for most U.S. military personnel, principally because of the deep conict within civilian society over the conduct of the war. Soldiers who returned from tours of duty in the late 1960s and early 1970s were often confronted by civilians who attacked their character and integrity. Common complaints of returning combat veterans were verbal attacks by strangers who greeted them with the sobriquet of baby killers. Both overt hostility and simple indifference to returning soldiers increased the postwar trauma for hundreds of thousands of veterans. Indeed, a total accounting of U.S. casualties during the conict must include an undetermined number of psychiatric cases that far exceed the total number of wounded and dead from twelve years of war. One estimate placed the total number of long-term psychiatric casualties at approximately 15 percent, for all forces who served in country: The estimated lifetime prevalence of PTSD among American Vietnam theater veterans is 30.9% for men and 26.9% for women. An additional 22.5% of men and 21.2% of women have had partial

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PTSD at some point in their lives. Thus, more than half of all male Vietnam veterans and almost half of all female Vietnam veterans about 1,700,000 Vietnam veterans in allhave experienced clinically serious stress reaction symptoms. 15.2% of all male Vietnam theater veterans (479,000 out of 3,140,000 men who served in Vietnam) and 8.1% of all female Vietnam theater veterans (610 out of 7,200 women who served in Vietnam) are currently diagnosed with PTSD (Currently means 198688 when the survey was conducted).28 A major effect on the state of the American soldier during the Vietnam War was the introduction of a pervasive drug culture. Estimates of drug addiction range as high as 40 percent for U.S. forces stationed in country. The production of opium in northern Thailand and Burma, the golden triangle, led to the worldwide expansion of opiate use in the form of heroin and other derivatives. A tragic consequence for American society was the introduction of opium-based drug use to American soldiers. The drug culture that American soldiers acquired in South Vietnams cities, as well as in Bangkok while on short leave had multiple deleterious effects. Drug use supported the deterioration of the U.S. militarys combat effectiveness, affecting morale and discipline in the theater of operations and within the military worldwide. Further, the drug culture spawned by the war made its way back to the United States, where the destructive effects of chemical addiction resulted in millions of ruined lives. Heroin addiction, a devastating illness, ravaged not only the affected GIs, but spread an extraordinary complex of social problems throughout the communities where the soldiers returned. The drug problem only added ammunition to the burgeoning antiwar movement, which saw the destructive effects of the conict on both Vietnam and American society. In contemporary accounts of the war, drug use among Vietnam War veterans was linked directly to the psychiatric effects of combat involving enormous stress and the highly questionable practices of U.S. counterinsurgency operations.29 Some observers and scholars of the Vietnam conict have argued that the defeat of the United States was a result of the disintegration of the U.S. military as a ghting force in Indochina. Indeed, the enormous stress placed on U.S. military institutions by the war, led to serious declines in operational effectiveness. However, the effects of the war, over a decade of active involvement, on American society, culture, politics and institutions, were so broad that it does not appear possible to differentiate cause from effect. The loss of civilian support resulted in the withdrawal

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of U.S. forces under less than favorable circumstances. However, the loss of domestic legitimacy was related directly to the results of U.S. military operations in the combat theater. Those operations affected the state of the military forces, including its relations with American society. Which came rst, the operational defeat of the military in the eld, or the loss of public morale for the conict, cannot be discerned readily. In fact, over years of mind-numbing bombing, search-and-destroy ground operations, social unrest and political dissent, both dire conditions, military and societal, reinforced one another.30 CONCLUSIONS This chapter surveyed some of the important areas for U.S. military operations during the Vietnam War, and how they related to civilian society. Understandably, those operations were fraught with difculties, whose sources were both internal and external to the institutions of the armed forces. Strict political constraints on the use of force and an increasingly hostile domestic political environment limited the ability of the U.S. armed forces to achieve its authorized mission. Strategy was badly implemented because of those constraints, in addition to the inefciencies caused by competing institutional interests between the four branches of the armed forces. Without unity of command, a badly led and motivated ally in South Vietnam, and a wavering, often hostile response from civilian society, the chances of victory seemed poor. The enemy, the Vietnamese communist party of both North and South Vietnam, relied on the enormous reservoir of political will that the Vietnamese maintained to resist foreign occupations. They also relied on the doctrinal strengths of Marxist-Leninism and Maoism as ideological systems for engaging in revolutionary war. Finally, the overt material support of the Soviet Union and the Peoples Republic of China was vital to keeping the PAVN and PLA in the eld against the formidable military assets of the United States.31

4
Operations: Part II
MILITARY STRATEGY VERSUS CIVILIAN AUTHORITY To reiterate, military operations during the Vietnam War were conducted in the context of the power relations between the military and the civilian branches of government. U.S. civil-military relations were challenged and dened by Vietnam. From the last year of the Kennedy administration, to the second year of the Ford administration and the fall of Saigon, a span of twelve years, Vietnam was a central focus of Cold War strategy and the role and efcacy of the armed forces as a global military. Within the theater of operations, the primary source of conict related to the strategy and tactics of limited war. How that strategy affected the social and political fabric of the United States was the vortex of conict and opposition between the uniformed services and the leaders of civilian society. The political leadership in Washington placed strict limits on the intensity and the scope of the conict. Despite continuous recommendations by the senior members of the armed forces for expanded means and freedom of action, military solutions to the Vietnam War were directly opposed by the presidential administrations of John F. Kennedy (JFK) and Lyndon Johnson (LBJ). Both Democratic presidents viewed the professional ofcer corps with wariness. LBJ and JFK experienced the JCS as extremely aggressive and politically tone deaf, whose recommendations during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis were a sure path to a nuclear exchange between the superpowers.1

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The oppositional relationship between the executive branch and the military changed with the election of Richard Nixon. Nixon, a traditional Republican, viewed the military as a tool for projecting U.S. power around the world. In Vietnam, to a large degree, Nixon favored a far more Clausewitzian approach to the war, with expanded bombing and cross-border operations into Laos and Cambodia. He supported these policies, despite poisonous opposition from a sizeable number of congressmen and senators, and an ongoing battle for integrity and prestige from an increasingly cynical mass media.2 Despite Nixons promilitary inclinations, he understood that he had a clear mandate to end the war, not necessarily to win it. By 1969, at the start of the Nixon presidency, the majority of the U.S. public no longer believed categorically, as it did in 1965, in winning the war in Vietnam. On the other hand, the JCS could not conceive of ghting a war to lose. Defeat was an extraordinary psychological blow to any military organization. The loss of Indochina, after the commitment of large U.S. forces, was anathema to the professional armed forces. It challenged the legitimacy of their profession and fundamental tenets of military doctrine and culture. MANAGERIAL INTERNATIONALISM Through the entire operational phase of the ground war, from 1965 to 1972, the United States was guided by a managerial perspective or ideology. Clearly, military doctrine and culture impressed itself on the American military response. However, as I have noted earlier, the dominant institutional perspective on international affairs remained managerial or technocratic. Managerial internationalism informed all levels of analysis and action. Military ofcers designed operations and campaigns within the ideological prism of military culture. They understood war in terms of the classic principles of military doctrine that I have termed Clausewitzian. On the other hand, the culture and ideology of national security managers, which included most of the civilian leaders and analysts in the White House, the National Security Council staff and other executive departments, was more managerial than Clausewitzian. The managerial perspective incorporated broad and varied political interests with military objectives. Managerial internationalism dened the Vietnam War, creating the integrated political-military plans that for better or worse were executed over both the Johnson and Nixon administrations.3 MAJOR ESCALATION: 19651968 The escalation of the U.S.-led ground war began in 1965 and reached its height in 1968. The expansion carried out the plan agreed

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upon in summer 1965. Increasing numbers of combat battalions were deployed throughout the South, designed principally to engage main force Viet Cong and regular North Vietnamese Army units. Although the communist forces maintained the initiative in two-thirds or more of these military engagements, the overwhelming air- and land-based artillery systems deployed by the United States made battleeld victories nearly impossible for Ho Chi Minh and his senior general, Vo Nguyen Giap.4 The United States and South Vietnamese, reinforced by contingents of Australian, Thai, Philippine and South Korean troops, and the communists, including the Peoples Liberation Armed Forces (PLAF) of the South, the North Vietnamese and thousands of Chinese and Soviet advisors and technicians, engaged in a long battle of attrition. Both sides had the same underlying strategy. Ironically, both thought the other would succumb to high levels of casualties. For the communist forces, casualties were eight to ten times higher on average than U.S. losses, and several times those of the Republic of Vietnam forces. Despite the massive losses in battleeld engagements, including the fateful 1968 Tet Offensive, Ho Chi Minh assumed he was winning. From his perspective, as long as American forces were sustaining substantial numbers of dead and wounded, the sacrices for his nation were justied. In more than 2,000 years of the countrys history, Vietnam had fought extended and clandestine war against vastly superior enemies, defeating them with tenacity; and the martial spirit carried through Vietnamese history.5 At the same time, the United States had for nearly 200 years fought long and costly battles all over the world. The American military tradition, or way of war, was as formidable as that of the Vietnamese. To defeat the United States, Ho Chi Minh and his compatriots had to wage a war of interminable length against an enemy with inexhaustible resources. The North Vietnamese could only win through political and psychological success in a deadly war of attrition. The Vietnam War literature is correct in understanding the nature of the communist strategy, as well as the American. For their part, the North Vietnamese military leadership was very realistic in their appraisal of the war and the performance of their soldiers against a formidable enemy. An assessment of the war in October 1969 revealed extraordinary candor on the part of General Vo Nguyen Giap: Even though we have fought the enemy with more vigor, we have not been highly determined to wipe him out and expand our areas. We are incapable of attacking (RVN) city areas. Our guerrilla warfare activities have become weaker and weaker. We have been unsuccessful in political and military proselytizing.

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The 10-point solution presented by the NFLSVN has not been accepted favorably (throughout the world). The provisional Revolutionary Government was established for propaganda. It is a new form (of government), but its members remain the same (as before). The fact that we controlled from three-fourths to four-fths of the population is not accurate.6 The senior political leadership in the United States understood the challenge posed by the North Vietnamese and their communist allies. Despite the formidable task of waging a protracted land war against an enemy with a 2,000-year-old history of winning such wars, the leadership accepted the attrition strategy proposed by the Army commander, William Westmoreland, in summer 1965. Major civilian leaders, including Lyndon Johnson, Walt Rostow, Robert McNamara and Dean Rusk, believed that General Westmoreland, given the assets at his disposal, would be able to destroy the combat effectiveness of the communist forces, while military and civilian personnel, in cooperation with the South Vietnamese, would make progress winning the rural population to the side of the GVN. They also believed that the growing and increasingly effective armed forces of South Vietnam would stabilize the country, making it a viable nation-state. Finally, the graduated bombing of North Vietnamese supply routes and military and industrial installations, would eventually force the communists to the realization that they could not win the war.7 The American strategy was logical except for the expectation of success in a limited period of time. Members of the JCS had estimated a campaign of ve to ten years with up to a million troops. The durability of the American ground war was the one variable that the United States could not overcome. The limited war envisioned by the Johnson administration held South Vietnam together from 1965 to 1968, at considerable cost in American lives, money and international prestige. Yet the complex, multileveled, multidimensional global war effort by the United States had its Achilles heel. A prolonged military campaign, fought under political constraints dened by 1960s managerial internationalism, could not sustain domestic political support long enough to succeed. In the last analysis, North Vietnams attrition strategy, at enormous cost to them, was more effective than that of the Johnson administration. OPERATIONS 19651966 The rst year of major combat operations by U.S. forces involved stabilizing the military situation in the South. The case for combat troops

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was made by MACV in June 1965. During the rst six months of the year, PLA units attacked South Vietnamese military forces with increasing size and frequency. Holding the initiative in those engagements, they were quickly destroying the ability of the RVNAF to secure any part of South Vietnam. Prior to the introduction of major U.S. combat forces, many doves in the executive branch favored an enclave strategy. William Bundy and George Ball, among others, favored holding a small part of the country while they negotiated with the North Vietnamese for a settlement.8 The introduction of battalion-size Army and Marine units immediately changed the balance of power on the battleeld. Instead of the poorly led and motivated South Vietnamese forces, U.S. soldiers, backed by the overwhelming repower of its forces, could engage and destroy even numerically superior communist units. Beginning in summer 1965, for the rst time since the rst U.S. advisors came to Indochina in 1950, U.S. combat units fought both PLA and PAVN units. Overall, aided by decisive technological superiority on the battleeld, they destroyed their adversary. With the advantages of military force delivered by air- and sea-based aircraft, helicopter gun ships and the armored land vehicles deployed in the forests and swamps, U.S. Army and Marine battalions forced tactical withdrawals of enemy forces throughout the South.9 The buildup of U.S. forces inside the country was impressive. In summer 1965, MACV had less than a 100,000 soldiers in South Vietnam. Troop strength was at 184,300 by the end of 1965. By the end of 1966, some 400,000 troops comprised the allied expeditionary force in the South. In addition to U.S. troops, the Johnson administration was successful persuading the South Koreans, Australians, New Zealanders, Thais and the Philippinos to send troops. With the simultaneous strengthening and expansion of the ARVN, the combined order of battle for the free world looked like it outnumbered signicantly the forces of its adversary. At the end of 1966, combined Viet Cong and North Vietnamese troop strength was estimated at 282,000. U.S. and RVNAF authorized troop strengths were 385,000 and 631,000 respectively.10 As noted earlier, the dominant mode of land operations in Vietnam was the search-and-destroy mission. William Westmoreland hoped to destroy the main force units of the enemy, and render their operations in the South completely ineffective. The concept was quite simple and logical. Combat units would sweep the deeply forested or swamped terrain of South Vietnam, looking for enemy concentrations. With superior repower, including enormous amounts of airpower from landand sea-based ghter and bomber wings and thousands of helicopters, they sought to engage the largest and best PAVN and PLA forces. The

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Marines preferred the coastal enclave strategy of clear and hold, but when opportunity arose, they engaged the enemy in an integrated assault. Operation Starlight, August 1965, was the rst large-scale combat operation by the U.S. Marines. In a preemptive strike against a 1,500man Viet Cong regiment, three Marine battalions, with substantial air and sea support, launched a powerful military strike. U.S. victory was assured as always by overwhelming repower. Using large artillery guns, Naval guns from two destroyers and several hundred sorties from Marine ghter bombers, the U.S. destroyed the VC regiment. They recovered more than 600 enemy dead, while the Marines suffered only 45 fatalities, and 120 wounded.11 The Armys rst major engagement was the battle of the Ia Drang Valley in November 1965. The First Battalion, Seventh Cavalry of the First Cavalry division was sent into the valley in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam, near the Cambodian border. They were sent to search for suspected enemy concentrations. As a testimony to the lack of accurate eld intelligence, the airmobile unit was immediately surrounded by two North Vietnamese regiments. In the ensuing battles, the First Battalion, reinforced by two others from the Armys most elite combat division, the First Cavalry, engaged several thousand crack PAVN regulars. Greatly outnumbered, but supported by the extraordinary and deadly repower of its helicopters, ground-attack xed-wing aircraft and, nally, the devastating bombings from the Air Forces B-52 Stratofortresses, the Army won a decisive victory. At least 2,000 North Vietnamese troops were killed, and the surviving forces withdrew, ceding the valley to the United States and the ARVN.12 The battle was the rst major engagement and victory by the U.S. Army in Vietnam. It demonstrated the utility of airmobile warfare in the Indochina theater, and dealt a material and psychological defeat to the communists. Nonetheless, it cost the lives of 305 American soldiers. The loss of a single American soldier had political ramications in the United States. Both the military and civilian leadership understood this, but the dilemma, the need to ght contradicted with the need to minimize casualties, was not resolvable in 1965 or for the ensuing years of the wars escalation. In spring, two signicant investigationsone an internal report by the U.S. Army known as the PROVN report, and the other a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings on the war, the Fulbright hearings of 1966challenged the conduct and the legitimacy of the war. PROVN was an extensive and highly critical two-volume analysis of the conduct of the war. The analytical narrative traced the development of U.S. involvement from the 1940s through the beginning of 1966, when the report was

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sent for internal publication and distribution. In many respects, PROVN bears a striking resemblance to another internal report later declassied as the Pentagon Papers. What distinguishes PROVN from the latter report is a distinct air of urgency. The rst paragraph of the reports executive summary is a blunt and clear disapproval of the conduct of the war. Succinctly, the authors agree with many of the most strident public critics of the war in spring 1966: The situation in South Vietnam (SVN) has seriously deteriorated. 1966 may well be the last chance to ensure eventual success. Victory can only be achieved through bringing the individual Vietnamese, typically a rural peasant, to support willingly the Government of South Vietnam (GVN). The critical actions are those that occur at the village, district and provincial levels. This is where the war must be fought; this is where that war and the object which lies beyond it must be won.13 What the PROVN report emphasized was the formidable politicalmilitary organization that opposed the United States and its South Vietnamese allies. The United States stabilized the military situation, which was on the verge of complete collapse in 1965, but the NLF and the PAVN were expanding their operations throughout the South. MACV and CIA intelligence estimated the Viet Cong Infrastructure, or VCI, in the range of 100,000 people. By 1967, the estimate of all communist forces in the South, including political cadres, main force Viet Cong and North Vietnamese units, regional and local NLF and irregular or part-time soldiers, was in the range of 300,000 to 600,000. MACVs most optimistic estimate was at the lowest end of this range, while the CIAs most pessimist estimate was at the high end.14 Despite terric victories for the U.S. forces, such as the battle of the Ia Drang Valley, the strength and morale of the communist forces remained undiminished. Without vigorous local-level efforts to weaken the political infrastructure, PROVN concluded that the war was lost. This analysis was inconsistent with the dominant military ideology in the U.S. armed forces, which, as described, expected to defeat the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese by destroying their main force units and breaking the will of the North Vietnamese leadership to continue the insurgency in the South. While the Army suppressed the PROVN report, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, under the leadership of Arkansas Senator William J. Fulbright, went ahead with a critical inquiry of the administrations

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Vietnam policy. In ve televised hearings on the Johnson administrations supplemental aid request for the war, Fulbright indicted the aims, logic and methods of the war. In a book published later that year, titled The Arrogance of Power, the powerful senator who was a national authority on foreign affairs, denounced every aspect of the Johnson administrations war, blaming both a cultural belief in American superiority and mission in the world and the militaristic tendencies of an advanced industrial civilization.15 OPERATIONS 1967 In 1967, there was a general feeling among the military leadership that the tide was now turning in their favor. The United States now had more than 400,000 troops on the ground, with a rapidly growing South Vietnamese military that was twice that size. Korea had sent some 50,000 troops to support the war. Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and the Philippines were also contributing in a broad-based, multipronged strategy to defeat the communists. At the height of the war, the Johnson administration had large-scale pacication strategies in place, including the critical programs to develop the local and regional forces that fought the Viet Cong on a daily basis. The main ground war seemed to be going well. In battle after battle, main force North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces were dealt huge defeats. MACV statistics showed that U.S. forces were killing 7,500 VC and PAVN soldiers per month. Combined with the South Vietnamese armed forces, the enemy was taking well over 100,000 combat fatalities on a yearly basis. This was considered progress, even though, with a steady inltration of 6,000 soldiers from the North per month, the communists were still quite capable of replacing those losses.16 At the same time, U.S. theater fatalities increased dramatically during 1967, with more than 10,000 deaths for the year. The very favorable kill ratios of more than seven to one in favor of the free-world forces was not materially weakening the North Vietnamese and the NLF. At the same time, very forceful antiwar sentiment in the United States continued to gain strength and societal legitimacy. In particular, congressional anger at the cost in men and money, and the strategic irrationality of the conict, worked as a daily pressure on the Johnson White House. Despite major critiques in the press, academia and in the Congress, the commander of U.S. forces, Westmoreland, and many of the senior ofcers were condent in the overall strategy of attrition and pacication.17

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OPERATIONS 1968: TET AND POST-TET The year 1968 was the wars political turning point. From a purely military perspective, the communist forces had suffered tremendous losses and defeat. Direct military assaults on South Vietnamese cities were all routed quickly by U.S. and ARVN forces. There was no mass uprising against the South Vietnamese government, as many of the North Vietnamese strategists believed. Yet, the communists demonstrated a coordinated attack in every part of the country. Viet Cong units assaulted the presidential palace and the U.S. embassy in Saigon. In Hue, several thousand progovernment civilians were killed by the PLA before U.S. and South Vietnamese troops recaptured the city in February. The scope of the attacks stunned and disheartened public opinion in the United States, which was heavily inuenced by the portrayal of the offensive by the mass media. Clearly, the Tet Offensive of 1968 was a transforming event in the Vietnam War, and for U.S. civil-military relations during the conict.18 In effect, the political defeat of the offensive was both national and global. The seeming inability of the huge free-world forces, over 1 million men under arms, supported with the extraordinary repower of the Air Force and Navy and the almost limitless resources of the Pentagon, to ght a massive attack by guerrillas and light infantry from a Third World country became a crushing blow to the wars legitimacy. The communists and especially the PLA suffered huge and irreplaceable losses. Estimates of 40,000 dead in February 1968 suggest that the VC experienced the destruction of many of its regular units as well as substantial numbers of its ofcers and political cadres. In response to the unexpected offensive, Westmoreland requested 206,000 more troops to supplement the 500,000-plus expeditionary force it had in place. This was a perfectly reasonable request from the point of view of many senior military ofcers. One of the cardinal principles of war, which had long been ignored by the political leadership in Washington, was that success in combat required the concentration of all available resources to inict a decisive blow on the enemy. Since the enemy had suffered serious losses in its daring but failed offensive, mounting a powerful counteroffensive was absolutely consistent with the principles of war dened in modern times by Napoleon, Clausewitz, Jomini and so many other leaders and strategists of land warfare.19 Yet by the spring of 1968, the political basis for the war had evaporated. The public began a historic shift away from support for the war. Lyndon Johnson lost the New Hampshire primary to the antiwar candidate Eugene McCarthy. Finally, the Clifford Task Force, a senior

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advisory group led by Clark Clifford, the secretary of defense who had replaced Robert McNamara, provided an internal critique that effectively ended the escalation of the Vietnam War. The situation was grasped quite succinctly in a communication between General Wheeler, chairman of the JCS, and MACV Commander Westmoreland in March 1968: C. It is fair to state that the combination of further troop deployments and the critical scal situation has placed the government in as difcult a situation as I have seen in the past ve years. D. All of these things have, I judge, together with the gloom and doom generated by the Tet offensive, affected heavily public support for our war effort. The latest polls show that 69 per cent of those interviewed favored a phased withdrawal of our forces from SEA. To put it succinctly and frankly, I am concerned by these developments, and I believe that you should be aware of them. However, I caution that you do not reveal to anyone that this is the situation as I see it and is as serious as I believe it is.20 Two weeks later, LBJ announced in a televised speech his decision to not seek reelection. Further, he called a halt to the bombing of almost all of North Vietnam and extended an invitation for peace talks. He designated Averill Harriman, his ambassador at large and a leading gure in his administration who favored a negotiated settlement, as his ambassador to the peace diplomacy. In operational terms, however, 1968 continued the large-scale ground war. The siege of the U.S. military base at Khe Sanh in the Central Highlands by North Vietnamese divisions was another test of U.S. military resolve. Once again, overwhelming aerial supremacy and logistical support enabled the outnumbered U.S. garrison to survive the assault and encirclement of their base. Even as the country moved anxiously to pressure the Johnson administration for a negotiated end of the war, military operations continued as they had for the past three years. Search-anddestroy missions against PAVN and PLA units, and sweeps against local VC guerrillas, continued on a daily basis. The seemingly endless conict made 1968 the bloodiest year of the war. Over a thousand U.S. soldiers died each month that year, with many thousands more sent home with serious battleeld wounds. For the North Vietnamese, fatalities were more than eight times as high for a country with only one-tenth of the population of the United States. The war of attrition continued at a furious pace. The massive repower deployed by the United States and the ARVN resulted in the widespread depopulation of communist controlled

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rural areas, and constant attacks by both sides against fortied positions and moving units.21 The political context of 1968 was a worldwide social, cultural and intellectual movement that challenged established authority. In Paris, students erected barricades to ght the gendarmes. They were revolting against an authoritarian university system that they in the spirit of the times wanted to overthrow. April 1968 saw more than hundred race riots in American cities, a response to the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. at a motel in Tennessee. In June, presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was assassinated in California, just after winning the states primary. In August 1968, violent antiwar demonstrations at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago shocked a worldwide audience.22 In this context, the war went on in Indochina with brutal regularity. U.S. commanders knew that the communists had suffered serious military defeats. The NLF had lost thousands of its most experienced ghters during the Tet Offensive. The PAVN had taken huge losses during Tet and throughout the year. North Vietnamese society was suffering under the huge burdens the war had placed on its population. The loss of life, food rationing and the constant fear of bombing was having an effect on the countrys morale. Yet the U.S. military command knew that its own forces had suffered serious losses too. The cost of the war had reached an intolerable level for a majority of the American public. Clearly, there were constraints on the scope of the militarys operations that went beyond the constraints imposed in 1965, limiting the possibility of Chinese involvement. In the fall of 1968, the military and the political leadership began to prepare for the de-escalation of the war. All major presidential candidates including the segregationist George Wallace promised an end to the war. The election of Richard Nixon, a Republican with strong conservative credentials in foreign policy, heralded a conservative solution to U.S. disengagement and the end of the war. VIETNAMIZATION AND DISENGAGEMENT: 19691973 Vietnamization simply meant turning the war over to the South Vietnamese. Once the United States had 500,000 troops in-country, plus air and seamen based in neighboring countries; virtually every aspect of the war was being conducted by the U.S. government. Strategic and operational planning was done in Washington, CINCPAC headquarters in Hawaii and COMUSMACV headquarters in Saigon. In fact, the nancing, diplomacy, force and operational planning, intelligence and analysis

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were conducted by dozens of executive branch institutions around the world. The Vietnamese people fought the war. They died, military men and civilians, by the hundreds of thousands, but the entire structure of the war, its decision-making system, remained almost entirely in American hands. The Nixon administration knew that had to change radically if South Vietnam was going to survive. The massive scale of U.S. involvement was temporary. This was a political constraint that the American public placed on its military and political establishment. Fourteen thousand U.S. soldiers lost their lives in the Indochina conict in 1968. For a war that had come to be seen as elective rather than vital for the United States, the level of combat mortality and injury was far above the range of toleration for a majority of the public. Even without the increasingly violent and extreme university antiwar movement of the rst term of the Nixon administration, there was no political viability for any policy that kept many hundreds of thousands of troops on the ground on the distant battleelds of Indochina.23 Richard Nixon knew this when he was running for ofce in 1968. He was deeply aware of this political constraint when he introduced his program of Vietnamization in 1969. The program invigorated the expansion of the RVNAF. From 1969 until the Paris Peace Accords of 1973, a determined program to improve the war-ghting capabilities of the South Vietnamese armed forces was indeed effective. Combined with the aggressive expansion of the war into Cambodia and Laos that seriously damaged the ability of the North to inltrate forces into the South, the overarching military strategy of the Nixon administration was successful. By 1971, the Phoenix pacication program, the interdiction of supply and inltration routes in Cambodia and Laos, and the enhanced performance of all branches of the RVNAF, had created the conditions for the rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces. By the beginning of 1972, few U.S. ground combat forces remained in action in South Vietnam.24 The political context for Vietnamization and U.S. withdrawal was a broad disengagement mandate from the Congress and the public. Whether or not the JCS and MACV viewed a continued U.S. military commitment as necessary for the survival of South Vietnam, American society had made clear its inability and unwillingness to continue major involvement beyond the minimum required. OPERATIONS 19691972 Military strategy during the Nixon administration followed its political designs. Nixon and his chief foreign policy advisor, Henry Kissinger, had opened negotiations with the North Vietnamese, the Peoples Republic

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of China and the Soviet Union, in an ambitious attempt to end what they inherited, that is, a large and potentially dangerous military engagement in Southeast Asia. Since the strategic and economic burdens of the war matched the already formidable domestic political costs, Nixon was indeed anxious to implement a strategy of disengagement, what he later termed peace with honor.25 Operations during the Nixon administration followed a strategy of accelerated pacication, aggressive interdiction and destruction of enemy lines of communication, continued search-and-destroy missions but an ongoing transfer of military responsibilities to the ARVN and other branches of the RVNAF. The overriding objective was to change the comparative balance of power between the North Vietnamese and South Vietnamese forces. Once conditions on the battleeld favored the survival of the Republic of Vietnam at least in the short term, the U.S. would have the political context it needed to execute a successful disengagement from Indochina. THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE RVNAF The development of the South Vietnamese armed forces was central to Nixons exit strategy. In fact, the expansion of the operational capabilities and overall effectiveness of the ARVN, the regional and popular forces, the South Vietnamese Marines, Navy, Air Force and special operations units, was an ongoing project for MACV and its predecessor organization MAAG, from 1950 to the end of direct U.S. involvement in 1973. Close evaluations of the South Vietnamese military by MACV analysts suggested that indeed very signicant progress was made in developing the force and combat abilities of the South Vietnamese.26 In the rst years of U.S. combat involvement, 19651967, in purely statistical terms, ARVN units were deemed on average only one-third to one-half as effective per troop as U.S. Army and Marine units. The comparative superiority of the U.S. forces was attributed to better leadership and better combat support. Nonetheless, South Vietnamese combat forces had kill ratios that often approximated the ratios achieved by U.S. Army maneuver battalions. Where the drop in effectiveness was most pronounced was in the regional and popular forces in South Vietnam. With fewer and inferior weapons and poorly trained ofcers, regional and local militias, not integrated into the national Army, found themselves on nearly equal footing with the Viet Cong. As a consequence, these units had less favorable kill ratios in combat and, overall, avoided combat as much as possible. In general, the South Vietnamese forces were shown to be not afraid to ght, but poorly led. Poor military leadership from junior to senior level ofcers, led to hesitancy to engage the enemy.

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Lacking an effective ofcer corps, the South Vietnamese continued to be dependent upon U.S. combat forces to support them, even though their proximity to enemy forces throughout the country exposed the RVNAF to intensive engagements, usually initiated by the enemy.27 The formal beginning of Vietnamization in 1969 accelerated the training and development of the South Vietnamese military. Better weapons, lower levels of desertion and some improvement in the ofcer corps described the growth of the RVNAF through the early 1970s. MACVs central mission from 1970 onward was the development of the RVNAF as a military establishment capable of carrying on the war and defeating the enemy. To a degree, U.S. objectives were met. A combination of factors drastically reduced the strength of the Viet Cong in South Vietnam. Gradual improvement, and far more effective pacication methods, combined with the drastic reduction in inltration from the North after 1970, created a more favorable situation for the South Vietnamese. Nonetheless, at no point was the ARVN considered capable of defeating the PLA and the PAVN as they were positioned south of the demilitarized zone. Despite improvement, the South Vietnamese remained no match for the disciplined, highly motivated and well-trained North Vietnamese regulars, who in due time, would defeat the RVNAF. Defeat, however, was not because of lack of sacrice by South Vietnam. The anticommunist South Vietnamese forces fought, and sustained huge numbers of casualties. By the end of the war, the RVNAF had suffered over a million casualties, including over 200,000 dead. These numbers far exceeded U.S. losses in absolute terms. In relative terms, adjusting for differences in population, South Vietnamese fatalities were fty times that of the United States. Even this total, staggering as it was, dwarfed the relative losses of the North Vietnamese and NLF.28 PACIFICATION Along with the expansion of the size and capabilities of the RVNAF, and the interdiction and destruction of communist bases and supply routes in Laos and Cambodia, the other pillar of the war effort was pacication. The Department of Defense need a scientic measure of pacication. Beginning in 1967, MACV and the ARVN implemented a scoring system for all of the hamlets in South Vietnam. Every hamlet in every district and every province was evaluated according to the degree it was under government control. The rst estimate of control or security, in January 1967, estimated that 62 percent of South Vietnams population was in relatively secure areas. Through the counterinsurgency programs developed by the United States, South Vietnam and all other free

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world forces deployed in theater, the vast majority of South Vietnams population, both urban and rural, came under government control. By the end of 1971, after most of the rural population in the South had been separated from the NLF, MACV estimated that 97 percent of the population was now secure.29 Of course, these numbers were never accepted by antiwar critics, who questioned every aspect of counterinsurgency and pacication, from its morality to its efcacy. An historical evaluation of both U.S. and North Vietnamese sources suggests that pacication methods in the South, including the destruction of the political infrastructure of the NLF was successful in reducing the inuence of that organization, but by no means was it eliminated entirely. Both the NLFs military organization, the Peoples Liberation Army Forces (PLAF), and its political cadres, survived every program and operation designed to destroy it from the late 1950s to the end of the war in 1975. In the last analysis, pacication worked to the degree that large numbers of rural South Vietnamese rejected the NLF. However, the extensive civilian assistance programs implemented by the government never created a level of commitment and legitimacy among the South Vietnamese population to defeat the communist armies that drove into Saigon and other major cities of the South in spring 1975. The war had to be won at many levels: in the villages of South Vietnam, on the battleelds in all four military regions in the South, in the air over all of Indochina, on the ground in Eastern Cambodia and Laos and, in most important terms, in the political arenas of international and domestic politics. By the rst month of the Nixon administration, a majority of the Senate, including a growing number of vociferous critics of the war, had determined that the requirements for victory in Vietnam for the United States were impossible; that the only possibility for success was a speedy withdrawal from the country. Richard Nixon, however, had a different perspective on the war. Even as he made plans for withdrawal, he became convinced by the military reports and analyses he considered, that he needed to expand the geographic scope of the ground war, if only temporarily. To many conservatives, this was an act of eminent courage. However, to most liberals and moderates, the invasion of Cambodia was reckless and irrational. THE CAMBODIAN INVASION: 1970 On April 30, 1970, the Nixon administration announced that it had authorized the invasion of Cambodia by combined U.S. and South Vietnamese forces, and that U.S. troops for the rst time had crossed into

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Eastern Cambodia. The action sent shockwaves throughout the country and the world. Violent antiwar protests were mounted in the United States, and ofcial protests were lodged by the Soviet Union, China and numerous other countries including the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. In the Senate, antiwar senators led by William Fulbright, George McGovern and Mark Hateld, offered legislation to cut off funding for the Cambodian operation. Those opposed to war feared the expansion of the conict, at a time when the administration had promised withdrawal.30 The Wall Street Journal, a moderate antiwar voice in the mass media, had nothing but criticism for the Cambodian decision. It can hardly be viewed as anything but the widening of the war, the paper editorialized. Americans want an acceptable exit from Indochina, not a deeper entrapment.31 John T. Connor, a former secretary of commerce and the thenchairman of the Allied Chemical Corporation, denounced the invasion as precipitating a constitutional crisis of the most serious nature. Finally, Roland Evans and Robert Novak, prominent conservative political columnists, suggested that Nixons military gamble in Cambodia was far less than the attending political gamble he faced in the United States.32 Indeed, while the Gallup Poll showed Nixons popularity at 57 percent after his Cambodia speech, the country was almost in a state of armed siege. On May 4, four students protesting the war and the invasion were killed by national guardsmen at Kent State. In response, some 400 colleges and universities suspended classes nationwide. ROTC buildings were attacked at the University of Wisconsin, Case Western Reserve, Ohio University, the University of Nevada, the University of Alabama among others. State governors placed all National Guard units on alert. In Massachusetts, 1,500 faculty at ve colleges signed a petition calling for Richard Nixons impeachment. At Yale, the university president Kingman Brewster led a student and faculty delegation to Washington to demand a halt on attacks by the national government on students. In New York City, Mayor John Lindsay was quoted as saying the country was on the verge of a physical breakdown.33 Still, the invasion was widely praised by the administration and the military as a bold move that would reap enormous benets. The MACV history for 1970 concluded that the Cambodian operation had had a devastating effect on the ability of the North Vietnamese to support its operations in the South. In fact, inltration from North Vietnam, which was more than a hundred thousand men in 1968, declined to a tiny fraction of that number in the early 1970s. With the loss of most of its Cambodian and Laotian sanctuaries, the lines of communication with the South were greatly compromised.

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THE EASTER OFFENSIVE: 1972 The spring or Easter offensive of 1972 came just as Richard Nixon was preparing to run for reelection. For three years, Nixon and Kissinger had worked relentlessly to fashion a withdrawal strategy that would hold up to the antiwar pressure at home, while strengthening South Vietnam to the point that it could hold its own against the NLF and the North Vietnamese. With the huge effort to strengthen all the elements of the RVNAF, and the successful effort to separate the NLF from the Souths rural hamlets and villages, withdrawal had been rapid. By March 1972, few U.S. ground troops except those assigned to defend military installations were deployed in theater. The accelerated replacement of U.S. forces by the RVNAF was a direct result of the success of Vietnamization and pacication. In 1965, the NLF had grown in size and capability to the point that it directly threatened the survival of the Republic of Vietnam. Only the intervention of U.S. combat forces saved the republic. By 1972, however, the NLF was no longer an effective combat force against a vastly improved and larger South Vietnamese military. To win the war, the North Vietnamese leadership understood that a major offensive by the PAVN would be required. U.S. intelligence reported 7,000 to 8,000 trucks with weapons, ammunition and other supplies massing at supply depots to drive south through the Laotian trail system.34 On March 30, 1972, just after midnight, Good Friday morning, 40,000 crack North Vietnamese troops, three full combat divisions, along with elements already positioned in the South launched a massive attack against the northernmost sector in South Vietnam, military region one. Thousands of mortars, artillery and rockets were unleashed in a coordinated assault against the two main cities in the region, Quang Tri and Hue. With only 9,000 South Vietnamese troops in place to defend the coastal plain, the situation quickly turned into an emergency for the RVN.35 Simultaneously, PAVN units including heavy Russian-made tanks, struck in the Central Highlands near Plieku and farther south, communist forces attacked airelds and strategic towns north and northwest of Saigon, with the intention of cutting off the main highway connecting Saigon to the rest of the country. The well-prepared, coordinated attack was consistent with classic military doctrine. The North Vietnamese command, under General Giap, was attempting to win the war with one sweeping and decisive attack on the South. President Thieu, recognizing the gravity of the situation, went on national television calling for the country to ght for its survival.36

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North Vietnamese objectives were centered upon driving the ARVN out of the Central Highlands and the delta provinces west and north of Saigon so that the rural population that had been lost to the revolution would be regained. The South Vietnamese forces, with surprising determination, fought off the best combat troops available to the PAVN and the NLF, and over a period of three months survived the assault. Undoubtedly, the aid of the United States, in particular some 2,000 B-52 sorties against enemy concentrations, was critical for the failure of the 1972 spring offensive. The United States combined its successful air counteroffensive in the South with a massive new assault on North Vietnam. At the beginning of May, nearly six weeks into the offensive, Nixon announced to the nation his intent of punishing North Vietnam for its spring campaign. In addition to the air strikes in the South, which had increased dramatically in April and May, a new program of strategic bombing, later to be called Linebacker I, was begun. Further, for the rst time in the war, the U.S. Navy was authorized to blockade the North Vietnamese coast and mine Haiphong harbor. It seemed, after so many years of waging a limited war under successive presidential administrations, the Nixon administration had belatedly endorsed the wider, more fully Clausewitzian strategy, that the JCS had urged as early as the rst year of the Kennedy administration. The Nixon administration refused to concede South Vietnam to the North in 1972, as it made historic diplomatic openings to North Vietnams benefactors, the Soviet Union and the Peoples Republic of China.37 LINEBACKER I AND II Two of the most successful military operations during the entire Vietnam War was the application of airpower against the North Vietnamese. Linebacker I, implemented in response to the 1972 Easter offensive, was a critical campaign that saved the Republic of Vietnam. Linebacker II, a massive air attack aimed at strategic targets in Hanoi and Haiphong, forced the North Vietnamese to the conference table in January 1973, and the signing of the Paris Peace Accords. Both of these Air Force operations inicted highly signicant damage on the North Vietnamese military and civilian population. The Linebacker operations were the closest implementation of General Curtis LeMays strategic concept for air war, which was used against the Japanese mainland in 1945. In 1964, LeMay had lobbied for an intensive strategic bombing campaign against the DRV. Always viewed as an extremist, willing to risk nuclear war, LeMay never had inuence with either the Kennedy or the Johnson administrations. Nixon, a hawk and a conservative Republican, was far more sympathetic

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to the militarys view of war.38 In May 1972, with RVNAF forces falling back against a surprise PLA and PAVN offensive, the unleashing of American air assets was essential to rescue the South Vietnamese. The political costs associated with Linebacker I were considerable. Once again, a formidable array of domestic antiwar critics denounced Nixons aggressive response to the communist offensive. His expanded bombing and associated naval operations threatened dangerous escalation, at least to an antiwar public with venomous relations to the Nixon administration and the professional armed forces. Yet the unleashing of B-52 bombers, AC-130 gun ships with 105-mm cannons and other combat aircraft in support of the ARVN saved the day. By August, the North Vietnamese offensive in three military regions in South Vietnam had been defeated. Massive attacks against the Ho Chi Minh trail and North Vietnamese supply depots just across the DMZ had a major effect on the ability of the PAVN and PLA to maintain its attacks. The devastating bombing raids on their forces in the South left thousands of dead and many abandoned headquarters.39 The military success of the spring and summer air war against the DRV was returned to again in Linebacker II. The new and even more intensive air campaign was a response to the recalcitrance of the DRV. In December 1972, the North Vietnamese refused to accept the settlement terms offered by the United States. Nixon could not withdraw from South Vietnam without the release of American POWs held in Hanois infamous prisons. Confronted with the uncompromising face of the North Vietnamese, Nixon felt cornered. The American public demanded an end to the war that had traumatized the country for nearly a decade. At the same time, he understood that neither the Soviet Union nor the Peoples Republic of China would support the North Vietnamese in their obdurate diplomatic posture. Without consulting the Congress, Nixon ordered 129 B-52 aircraft to strike key military and industrial areas in the Hanoi and Haiphong regions. The assault lasted only twelve days, ending on December 30, 1972. Two thousand strike sorties by the most destructive bombers in the U.S. arsenal brought wide protests, formal and informal, from around the world. The bitter denunciation of the military assault by the prime minister of Sweden resulted in a temporary suspension of diplomatic relations between the two countries. In the United States, the familiar voices of antiwar protest denounced the new attacks as yet another form of aggression and even genocide.40 Nixon took the criticisms, domestic and international, without comment. The Linebacker II raids were costly in lives for both North Vietnam and the USAF. The Air Force lost thirteen bombers and their crews, some of whom died, others became the wars nal American POWs. The

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North Vietnamese suffered more than 2,000 casualties and severe damage to roads, bridges, airelds, supply depots and industrial plants. The battering of the North was met with little overt criticism by North Vietnams benefactors, who wanted an end to the war nearly as much as the United States. The end of the air offensive came when the North Vietnamese signaled their willingness to accept the peace terms offered by the United States. A war that had been fought with gradualism for over a decade ended with a massive demonstration of strategic bombing, which imposed very few constraints on the application of U.S. airpower. CONCLUSIONS U.S. military operations evolved through the major period of American involvement. The United States deployed multiple parallel strategies in Indochina, aimed at simultaneous nation building, counterinsurgency and conventional military operations. The combined military strategies were coordinated with a global political and diplomatic strategy necessary to support the war. The North Vietnamese and their communist allies followed a similar path. In accordance with Vietnamese and communist war doctrines, the DRV and the NLF pursued coordinated military, diplomatic and political strategies against the Republic of Vietnam, the United States and its allies. Both sides inicted very signicant casualties. The NLF lost combat effectiveness because of its enormous losses during and after the 1968 Tet Offensive, and by the sweeping actions of the ARVN and MACV to depopulate rural areas under NLF control.41 The North Vietnamese sustained extraordinarily high casualties as well. Fighting superior U.S. forces from 1965 through 1972, the PAVN suffered losses eight to ten times higher than the Americans. Even the ARVN was able to effect kill ratios of between two and four to one against Viet Cong and North Vietnamese units. Yet, despite the tremendous losses, the Vietnamese communists endured. Two years after the signing of the Paris Peace Accords, with signicant material support from the Peoples Republic of China and the Soviet Union, they were able to eld a very well-equipped, well-trained and highly motivated Army that was victorious against the RVNAF in spring 1975. In operational terms, the United States had defeated the PLA and the PAVN decisively. Over the course of eight years of combat, U.S. military forces delivered a string of serious defeats and massive casualties on their adversary. By the early 1970s, the Viet Cong was no longer an effective military force in the South. The North Vietnamese and Viet Cong sustained over 1 million combat fatalities, including more than 200,000 dead in 1968 alone. In relative terms, the losses sustained by the communists

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were equivalent to those suffered by the Soviet Union during the Second World War. Despite these catastrophic losses, and their ongoing operational defeats, the communist forces won the war. This will be discussed in more detail in chapter 5. We should note here that superiority on the battleeld does not necessarily translate into military victory because, as all the major theorists of war have communicated in their writings, war is by nature a political process.

5
Denouement
By the end of 1970, it was clear to almost all military observers that the PLA and the PAVN were defeated in South Vietnam. U.S. military estimates placed combined losses for the communists in 1968 at 289,000 men. Whereas in the late 1960s, inltration averaged as many as 10,000 soldiers per month moving down the Ho Chi Minh trail system, by late 1970, with the closing of most of the supply routes into the South, inltration had been reduced to a comparative trickle. Two years into the Nixon administration, more than 90 percent of the civilian population in the Republic of Vietnam was considered under government control. Finally, the Viet Cong Infrastructure (VCI) was gradually being reduced month by month, through defections, captures and combat deaths. The North had suffered huge casualties from deadly battles with the United States and other free-world forces. In North Vietnam, hundreds of thousands of tons of bombs over six years of air raids had produced serious damage and hardship for the civilian population. In operational, strategic and psychological terms, it appeared that the communists were defeated.1 Of course, this analysis ignored the essential political context of the war, which was not determined on the battleelds of Indochina, but in the broad arena of public opinion in the United States and the rest of the world. As discussed in earlier chapters, in terms of U.S. politics, the war had placed the Nixon administration in a precarious state. Even with military success, the broad antiwar movement in the United States refused to accept the validity of any views of the war by the Pentagon, the White House or indeed any part of the executive branch.

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During the Nixon administration, the military found itself in similar political and doctrinal positions to the White House. It believed it had turned the tide of war and in fact was on the verge of victory. Yet, the political legitimacy for the war had waned. Despite what it considered victory, domestic political defeat at the hands of the antiwar movement in Congress and in the larger public, was forcing the military to reduce its force structure before it believed the RVNAF was ready to assume the considerable burden of defending South Vietnam from skilled and disciplined forces of the NLF and the North Vietnamese. While the United States disengaged from Vietnam, the morale of the U.S. armed forces suffered serious decline. While the communists had been defeated, the U.S. military had experienced the most serious decline in discipline and morale since the Civil War.2 Throughout the war, from the Kennedy administration through the Ford presidency, military observers expressed critical views of presidential decision making. Some of the dissent was purely operational, criticizing the tactics and methods of combat. However, the most trenchant critiques were strategic, challenging the commitment of Kennedy, Johnson and nally the Nixon and Ford administrations to victory in Indochina. Finally, there were soldiers who dissented from both the military and civilian views of the war, and joined the larger antiwar movement in American society. STRATEGIC DISSENT Strategic dissent began during the earliest years of the Kennedy administration and continued until the fall of Saigon during the Ford presidency. As noted in earlier chapters, the majority of military ofcers critiqued the war from the right, arguing that the civilian controlled war violated basic tenets of military strategy. Among the Clausewitzian hawks were Air Force General Curtis LeMay, U.S. Army General and JCS Chair Lyman Lemnitzer, CINCPAC Admiral Ulysses S. Sharp, retired supreme allied commander Dwight D. Eisenhower, former JCS chairman Maxwell Taylor, as well as a legion of other generals, admirals and lower-ranking military ofcers, active and retired. In the Congress, leading hawks included retired military ofcers, Strom Thurmond and Barry Goldwater. Military dissenters to the left of center, who viewed U.S. intervention as misguided, included Army Generals Matthew Ridgeway and James Gavin and Marine Corps General David Shoup. Retired Lieutenant General James Gavin testied before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1967. He repudiated the doctrine and tactics of his former colleagues in the Pentagon:

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In my testimony last year I referred to the changing nature of military power. It is my belief that the advent of nuclear weapons has brought about a fundamental change in the very nature of war itself. The Clausewitzian orthodoxy that war is a continuation of politics by other means, for example, in my opinion, no longer applies. The concept that if you destroy people and enough property you overcome an enemys will to resist I believe to be as equally fallacious. A corollary of this idea, of course, is that nation should use as much force as is necessary to win since in war there is no substitute for victory. Actually, the nature of the conict being what it is and the danger of a nuclear holocaust being ever present, it is compelling that solutions less than total war be found. . . . We must realize that limited wars must be kept limited. This change in the nature of war is quite fundamental and it should be reected in our foreign policy and the military operations that mirror such policy. Otherwise we shall expend our national wealth and manpower in never-ending conicts all over the world.3 Perhaps the most famous military dissenter was Pentagon planner and former marine ofcer Daniel Ellsberg. Ellsberg, a key aide to Robert McNamara, became famous for leaking the top secret Department of Defense study on U.S. decision making on Indochina. His delivery to the New York Times of what became known as the Pentagon Papers, had major impact on the public critique of the war, as well as many future studies of the decision-making process.4 The left or antiwar dissent by senior ofcers critiqued the entire strategic and tactical doctrine of the U.S. military. A more radical critique, led by former junior ofcers and enlisted men who served in Vietnam, went beyond the operational and strategic critique of the war and focused on the conicts morality. For the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, military dissent meant a disavowal of the methods used by the U.S. to engage in war in Vietnam. For the last three years of U.S. intervention, antiwar Vietnam War veterans accused the U.S. military of war crimes in Indochina. Of all the military critiques, this was most damaging to the military as an institution.5 What conservative, moderate and radical military dissents showed was the ongoing crisis of civil-military relations during the Vietnam War, and the loss of both combat effectiveness and political capital for the American military during and after the Vietnam conict. For the U.S. armed forces, the length of the war, and the tragic level of discord within the military, between the military and civilian institutions and cultures, was

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a nearly unmitigated disaster. By the early 1970s, combat readiness of U.S. forces worldwide had reached unprecedented low levels. Drug and alcohol abuse were rampant in the U.S. armed forces. Insubordination, including unwillingness to go into combat, had become commonplace by 1970. The U.S. armed forces were plagued by the disintegration in command authority. After years of televised carnage, and the experience of millions of U.S. troops involved in inicting casualties on Vietnamese civilians, the moral legitimacy of the war, not only inside the military, but in American society as well, had reached very low levels.6 MILITARY DISSENTERS PRIOR TO THE GROUND WAR There were two types of dissent in the military prior to the U.S. ground war. On the one hand, counterinsurgency specialists, such as Edward Lansdale, viewed the operational tactics of the U.S. Army to be ineffective. The CI experts understood the task in Vietnam as one that required unconventional warfare. From their perspective, to defeat the Viet Cong required pacication methods, not major-unit warfare as practiced by the main force structure of the Army. On the other hand, most military dissent involved just the opposite set of concerns. Air Force Chief of Staff Curtis LeMays dissent was very specic. The U.S. strategy against North Vietnam would fail because it lacked sufcient airpower against targets vital to the enemys war effort. His position remained unchanged throughout the war and postwar era, and had concurrence with many senior military ofcers.7 Lyman Lemnitzer, chairman of the JCS, was emphatic, as early as May 1961, when he telegrammed his thoughts about Vietnam to his colleagues at the Pentagon. He wanted to know what we had to do to win in Vietnam. In effect, the issue was quite clear to him. As a veteran of two major wars, and as the senior military ofcer in charge of a multimillion-man force, Lemnitzer recognized the essential and critical need of every military organization to achieve victory. Without victory, the institutional memory of defeat could damage the military for decades, making future military victories far harder to achieve.8 In a November 1961 meeting of the NSC, Lemnitzer was able to reiterate his hawkish sentiment about the value of Vietnam and Indochina, as well as his general position on the Cold War: The President asked the Secretary of Defense if he would take action if SEATO did not exist and McNamara replied in the afrmative. The President asked for justication and Lemnitzer replied that the world would be divided in the area of Southeast Asia on

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the sea, in the air and in communications. He said that Communist conquest would deal a severe blow to freedom and extend Communism to a great portion of the world. The President asked how he could justify the proposed courses of action in Viet Nam while at the same time ignoring Cuba. General Lemnitzer hastened to add that the JCS feel that even at this point the United States should go into Cuba.9 The alternative military critique did not reject victory as an overarching objective. However, in the CI perspective, which had adherents among all the special forces deployed in Indochina, victory was not a question of overwhelming force. The destruction of North Vietnam would not guarantee victory, because the enemy was a complex, nationwide, clandestine military-political organization. No amount of bombing or search-and-destroy operations would by themselves uproot the entrenched communist-led resistance movement in the South, supported by a communist population in the North, which was prepared to suffer unlimited casualties and destruction of infrastructure to defeat a foreign enemy, namely, the United States. MILITARY CRITIQUE OF GRADUAL ESCALATION In political terms, the gradual escalation of the Vietnam War was a necessary process. A limited war, arguably a war of choice, that involved rotating several million American soldiers through a very distant land with a culture that bore no resemblance to American culture, required not only ideological orthodoxy, but an ongoing process of political legitimacy as well. Public diplomacy and domestic selling of the war required years of daily work. In lieu of a Pearl Harbor experience, the mobilization for war began before the Gulf of Tonkin and continued until the last year of the Johnson administration. The White House had the authority to ght a war in Indochina, but the political context of the war was that its scope was limited. The Vietnam War was, by political calculus, a circumscribed, controlled engagement. The war was intended to save South Vietnam, and hence, the integrity of the global containment system, but the conict had to avoid a direct military confrontation with North Vietnams powerful benefactors. The Republic of Vietnam, established under U.S. auspices during the Truman and Eisenhower administrations, was a vital interest of the United States through the wars conclusion in 1975. However, under no circumstances, as judged by the war managers in the White House and the Pentagon, could the Vietnam conict result in a nuclear or military crisis with either

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China and/or the Soviet Union. Kennedy alluded to this during the same NSC meeting with Lemnitzer: Mr. Rusk explained the Draft of Memorandum on South Viet Nam. He added the hope that, in spite of the magnitude of the proposal, any U.S. actions would not be hampered by lack of funds nor failure to pursue the program vigorously. The President expressed the fear of becoming involved simultaneously on two fronts on opposite sides of the world. He questioned the wisdom of involvement in Viet Nam since the basis thereof is not completely clear. By comparison he noted that Korea was a case of clear aggression which was opposed by the United States and other members of the U.N. The conict in Viet Nam is more obscure and less agrant. The President then expressed his strong feeling that in such a situation the United States needs even more the support of allies in such an endeavor as Viet Nam in order to avoid sharp domestic partisan criticism as well as strong objections from other nations of the world. The President said that he could even make a rather strong case against intervening in an area 10,000 miles away against 16,000 guerrillas with a native Army of 200,000, where millions have been spent for years with no success. The President repeated his apprehension concerning support, adding that none could be expected from the French, and Mr. Rusk interrupted to say that the British were tending more and more to take the French point of view. The President compared the obscurity of the issues in Viet Nam to the clarity of the positions in Berlin, the contrast of which could even make leading Democrats wary of proposed activities in the Far East.10 The military critique of this strategy was plain. Forcing the military to ght a war with incremental increases in strength, with the graduated use of force against a determined enemy with virtually unlimited outside sources of support, would result in a military stalemate. An inconclusive limited war that produced a stream of casualties was not a viable strategy to win for a democratic and privileged society. During the 1950s, the American publics resistance to and fear of international communism sustained military budgets above 10 percent of GNP. In the 1960s the same fear of global communism began to soften. The Stalinist Soviet Union was replaced by the rhetoric of peaceful coexistence and the beginning of what became known as dtente. While Maoist China proclaimed its commitment to world revolution, the backwardness of that country made it far less imposing as a threat than the Soviet Union.

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Indeed, the threat of Communist Chinese invasion, so prominent among Democratic leaders who demanded the constraints imposed by the Johnson administration, was considered overblown by the JCS. The gradual escalation of the war, involving the periodic announcement and public vetting of new troop commitments, diminished the ability of the military to win the war using its traditional methods. Bombing North Vietnam was permitted under the rules of gradual escalation. However, Rolling Thunder, the program launched to deliver measured and precise damage on the North Vietnamese military-industrial infrastructure, was a limited bombing campaign. For three years, the U.S. Air Force and Navy bombed the North Vietnamese mainland. Yet the bombing was not continuous and placed critical targets including Hanoi and Haiphong off limits. As a consequence, the limited air war allowed the enemy to adapt. The North Vietnamese dispersed their petroleum stocks. They built factories underground and they did not have to worry about their supply lines from China and the Soviet Union, because the United States did not bomb them. At the height of the war, November 1967, a comparison of civilian and military views on the war was compiled in a report by William Bundy, the assistant secretary of state for the Far East. The JCS favored three aggressive actions that were opposed by the State Department and the Department of Defense: (1) The removal of bombing restrictions on all military signicant targets in North Vietnam (2) The mining of North Vietnamese deep water ports (3) The expansion of military operations into Cambodian territory. Other actions, far less aggressive, had the support of the civilians, who in turn, had preponderant inuence with the president.11 Throughout the war, the western border regions of South Vietnam were critical sanctuaries for the communist forces. Through Laos and Cambodia, a steady stream of men and supplies entered South Vietnam. Despite enormous losses on the battleelds in the late 1960s, the Ho Chi Minh trail system kept hundreds of thousands of communist troops armed and fed, with waves of fresh troops marching south, safe under the self-imposed operational constraints of the United States. The war itself was being fought both as a conventional and an unconventional one. While search-and-destroy missions went on continuously, often with spectacular kill ratios of eight to ten to one, a pacication war conducted by MACV, the CIA and special South Vietnamese units also went on. Yet many traditional military ofcers were disdainful of unconventional or counterinsurgency war. The American way of war, as discussed in earlier chapters, was founded on the principles of war shaped

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by classical military strategists. Of course, every service branch adapted classical military doctrine according to the respective missions, combat histories and institutional strengths and weaknesses of each armed force. The U.S. Marines have never focused on large-scale assault doctrines that have dened U.S. Army doctrine from the Civil War of the 1860s through all the major wars of the twentieth century. Further, the Air Force had no institutional interest in a ground war in Indochina. While their strategic doctrine coincided with that of the other service branches, namely, they demanded the defense of South Vietnam, U.S. Air Force operational doctrine presumed that Vietnam could be won through the application of the enormous air assets at the disposal of the United States. Finally, the U.S. Navy viewed the war from the perspective of the Pacic Ocean, and the role of the U.S. as the worlds preeminent Pacic naval power. For the Army, however, the strategic and operational paradigm remained based upon the classical land warfare thinking of Carl von Clausewitz. Gradual escalation violated Clausewitzian doctrine. To win a war, according to Clausewitz, the enemy must be taken by surprise. His areas of vulnerability must be exploited at the earliest opportunity with a concentrated use of force. The enemy had to be broken by overwhelming repower, concentrated at the weakest points in his defense line. Once this was done, quickly and decisively, the psychological impact on the enemy would affect the breaking of his political will. Once an adversarys political will was broken, a peace settlement that would resolve the underlying political conict of the war would be implemented. Applying Clausewitz to the gradual escalation strategies of Lyndon Johnson, any student of war would notice glaring liabilities. Limiting the resources available to the military, and placing territorial and target limits on its operations violated the central principle of Clausewitzian strategy: the overriding objective of war is to break the enemys will through the overwhelming use of force. Further, other cherished principles of war were cast aside by the Johnson administration. Announcing troop deployments months in advance eliminated the critical element of surprise. Allowing the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong to pick and choose their places of engagement, which happened most of the time, sacriced the time-tested military principle of maintaining the initiative. The dispersal of combat units through hundreds of miles of difcult terrain violated the law of concentration (of forces). Finally, the fragmentation of military command between the various branches of the U.S. armed forces, leaving MACV with only pro forma authority over military operations, violated the concept of unity of command. Without surprise,

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initiative, mass or unity of command, the operational theory for U.S. engagement in Vietnam made the war very hard, if not impossible to win.12 From the perspective of military ofcers trained in main-unit warfare, the inability of Lyndon Johnson to obey the principles of war articulated by Clausewitz and countless other historical observers and practitioners of war, was a deliberate strategy for defeat. Unable to defeat an adversary willing to absorb millions of casualties, the deployment of over 500,000 troops was a futile exercise. Under no circumstances could a rational military strategist expect an enormous commitment of national resources to protect a less than vital national interest for an unlimited amount of time. During the 1960s, this was clear to the entire military establishment in the U.S. armed forces. The critique was made openly by some senior and retired generals and admirals. It was also made openly by the conservative allies of the military in Congress and in American society.13 MILITARY CRITIQUE OF VIETNAMIZATION AND WITHDRAWAL The essential critique of Vietnamization by the U.S. military was that it was not very effective. Despite years of training, the ARVN and the other branches of the South Vietnamese armed forces remained lacking in skills, motivation and morale. The private recorded conversations of Creighton Abrams, MACV commander from June 1968 to the end of the war, suggest an open contempt for the ARVN by Abrams and other senior ofcers. Although the statistical evidence suggests considerable improvement for the South Vietnamese from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s, the very favorable kill ratios were considered more a product of the U.S. air and artillery support than anything else. Prior to 1968, under Westmoreland, training the ARVN and supporting pacication activities were clearly secondary to MACVs primary mission: the destruction of the main force units of the Viet Cong and the PAVN. With the change of leadership to Abrams, who was second in command prior to his appointment, there was a marked change in the tactics of the U.S. military. Pacication became a major priority for MACV. Search-and-destroy missions, while still an active strategy, were supplemented by a strategy of clearing and holding territory. In 1969, Vietnamization was announced by Richard Nixon as the dening exit strategy for the United States. For the rst time, large amounts of aid and military manpower was devoted to expanding the capabilities of the RVNAF.14 For the MACV leadership and for the JCS in Washington, the lack of broad public support for the war made Vietnamization problematic. The overwhelming pessimism of civilians dismayed General Earle Wheeler,

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who thought by late 1969 that the war was being won in the eld, not lost, as nearly everyone in Washington thought. The mass media, antiwar members of Congress and indeed the Nixon administration had the lowest expectations for the state of the war, pacication and Vietnamization. Wheeler was frustrated with the thinking of President Nixon, and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, policy makers who initiated Vietnamization, but somehow did not believe in it.15 MORALE IN THE POST-TET MILITARY A major crisis that gripped the U.S. military from the late 1960s to the end of the war was its morale. The extraordinary national divisions over the war spilled over into the armed forces, as enlisted men for the rst time felt they had been betrayed by the armed forces. With the loss of the wars legitimacy at home and abroad, discipline and morale disintegrated among the enlistees and many of the junior ofcers. The horric and seemingly endless search-and-destroy campaigns alienated young soldiers who grew up in a liberal society, where free expression and other basic civil rights were considered a birth right. The zeitgeist of 1968 was rebellion. This had no exception in the U.S. military, where rank insubordination became a common practice. Perhaps the most signicant war resistance involved a future U.S. senator and presidential candidate, John Forbes Kerry of Massachusetts. Kerry, a Yale graduate, and a relation of the famous Forbes family, volunteered for the U.S. Navy in 1969. He served as a boat commander in river warfare operations in the Mekong Delta. In his immediate post-Vietnam years, he joined the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), and participated in the Winter Soldier congressional investigations of 1971. Those investigations implicated the U.S. military in wide-ranging war crimes in Indochina. Those crimes included torture, murder and rape of civilians and prisoners of war. Kerry, a very effective public speaker in his late twenties, impressed a national audience with his impassioned denunciation of the wars conduct and morality.16 Critics of Kerry and the VVAW have asserted that the alleged war crimes by the U.S. military were not authorized or condoned by the chain of command. Further, the extent of those atrocities were exaggerated by the antiwar movement for political effect. While the famous Mai Lai massacre of March 1968 resulted in the deaths of several hundred unarmed men, women and children, this was a unique and tragic circumstance of the war. Thousands of U.S. combat veterans attested to never participating or witnessing the atrocities committed at Mai Lai or alleged by the Winter Soldier hearings.17

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The truth lies somewhere between the antiwar and pro-war versions. Clearly, Mai Lai was an historical event. So too, were many other atrocities committed by U.S. and ARVN forces. It is also a matter of historical record that massive air and artillery assaults by the U.S. and its allies killed and wounded many hundreds of thousands of noncombatants in both North and South Vietnam. Yet, at the same time, it is also a matter of historical fact that millions of South Vietnamese civilians supported their government and fought bravely against invading communist armies for two decades. Atrocities, including grisly assassinations, were conducted on a daily basis by the Viet Cong and NLF from the early 1960s to the end of the war. Indeed, communist assassinations were a common instrument of terror, from the elimination of noncommunist rivals in 1945, to the purging of pro-French Vietnamese during the Indochina War.18 Irrespective of the morality of the war, MACV and indeed the entire U.S. military worldwide suffered serious declines in morale and ghting effectiveness beginning in the late 1960s. As Lyndon Johnsons war escalated, the antiwar movement blossomed. The 1960s became a cauldron for social, cultural and political revolution in the United States. The endless war of attrition between the United States and the North Vietnamese was lmed and documented by the U.S. mass media. Over years, the daily carnage fueled intellectual critiques and mass-movement protests that focused on the morality of the war. With the loss of public legitimacy, the institutional cohesion of the military weakened. A war that could not summon the deepest loyalty and patriotism of a nations citizenry became a conict that could not sustain the morale and operational integrity of its military. THE LOSS OF INDOCHINA The loss of Indochina was incremental and, given the political context of the war, seemingly inevitable. Military observers did not predict the loss of a major strategic asset to the United States. In fact, up until the end, the JCS and its political allies worked diligently to prevent the nal collapse of the Laos, Cambodian and South Vietnamese regimes. Yet, no matter the urgency and sense of responsibility, the national experience of the war was so scarring, so traumatic and wearying to the nation, when the fall came there was no political will left.19 The loss of the war started very early. Soon after Johnson made the decision to expand the war, senatorial critics of his policy went into action. Senator William J. Fulbright, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was a key gure in the Senates antiwar block. In January

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1966, he convened special hearings on the Vietnam War, the rst of many that critiqued the executive branchs handling of the intervention. Fulbrights committee never stopped criticizing the conduct of the war. For years, Fulbright and other staunch critics of the war challenged both the Johnson and Nixon administrations prosecution of the war. They and the larger antiwar movement that spread like wildre throughout the liberal segments of American society rejected search-and-destroy missions as barbaric exercises that only presented to the world how futile and authoritarian U.S. foreign policy had become. Instead of defending freedom, as pro-war Pentagon and State Department ofcials argued, the counterinsurgency and strategic bombing campaigns were more akin to the tactics of the fascists during the Second World War. The antiwar Senate and House members viewed any and all information from the executive branch vis--vis Vietnam with profound and unforgiving skepticism. Few war critics believed the Nixon administration when it claimed that its pacication programs had met with great success. More characteristically, they viewed conventional military operations as actions bordering on genocide. The pictures of severely burned children from the napalm of U.S. warplanes convinced both American and international audiences that, indeed, the war was a cruel and senseless attack on Asian peasants. Throughout the period of the ground war, Congressional critics demanded accelerated withdrawal and a negotiated settlement of the conict. The military requirements for more resources, soldiers, arms and time, were refused by powerful Congressional leaders who saw nothing but catastrophe in Vietnam. The morality of the war was seemingly indefensible. Whatever benets a Western victory could achieve, from the point of view of liberal and moderate antiwar groups, the destruction of South Vietnam, its peoples and its ecology, as well as the collateral effects on Cambodia and Laos, were beyond pale.20 No matter what progress the military and the executive branch could claim, and indeed, by 1970, the defeat of the Viet Cong as a military force and the dismantling of a substantial amount of the Viet Cong political infrastructure in the South suggested that the war was being won, the antiwar movement was not impressed. They refused to believe that a military solution was possible or even desirable. The cost to American society could be measured in many ways. First, in the loss of young men sacriced for no apparent reason. Second, in their physical maiming and their psychological injuries, which were indeed distributed broadly among Vietnam War veterans. Finally, the war shattered Americas cherished self-image. Destroying a peasant society, using the most formidable weapons of modern war, save the nuclear one, against the malnourished

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Vietnamese soldier wearing black pajamas, for no obvious purpose other than to protect the prestige of the United States as a great power, was an intolerable burden for American culture. PARIS PEACE ACCORDS 1973 An argument has been made in the Vietnam War literature that the diplomatic agreements reached in Paris in January 1973 essentially conceded the region to ultimate communist control. Nixon and Kissinger, who had no patience for continuing the costly engagement, launched the massive Christmas bombing of North Vietnam during the last two weeks of December 1972. The overwhelming force of 2,000 sorties by a eet of 129 B-52 bombers brought Hanoi to the negotiating table in January. Yet the nal agreement gave the North Vietnamese an overwhelming advantage in the post-U.S. period. A counter-argument made by Henry Kissinger was that he and Nixon negotiated the future of the Republic of Vietnam in good faith. They had not intended to abandon South Vietnam, but would have continued to support them except for the unforeseen changes, namely the Watergate scandal, that prematurely ended the Nixon presidency. From the point of the U.S. military, the peace agreement with the North Vietnamese was disingenuous. President Thieu was correct in rejecting the accords as a betrayal of his nations future. With the continued deployment of the PAVN in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam, and the effective safety of their supply system through Southern Laos and Eastern Cambodia, the settlement made the continued viability of South Vietnam as an independent nation-state a very dubious proposition. The Paris Peace Accords of 1973 committed the United States to total withdrawal from South Vietnam, subject to the return of its prisoners held in North Vietnamese prisons. The total absence of the formidable U.S. armed forces was not matched by any parallel withdrawal of North Vietnamese forces to north of the DMZ. The accords left thirteen PAVN divisions in the Central Highlands fully connected to the supply routes of the Ho Chi Minh trail. While the South Vietnamese government was left with one of the largest and best-equipped militaries in the world, they had to defend themselves against a better-trained and motivated military force aided by large-scale Soviet and Chinese support and an indigenous network weakened but still operational in the South. Without extensive military aid, the vast armaments left to the RVNAF would degrade, while the capabilities of the PAVN would be rebuilt absent the pressure of American interdiction of their supply and the destruction of their military-industrial infrastructure.21

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President Thieu and his government were bitterly opposed to the Paris Accords, but they had no say in the matter. Thieus critical views of the anticipated settlement were pasted on the front page of the New York Times days before Richard Nixons reelection in November 1972. The draft agreement that was signed less than three months later afforded no military relief for South Vietnam, other than a ceasere. Thieu understood the transparency of the document as merely a convenient exit for the United States. The North Vietnamese had no intention of preserving the independence of South Vietnam. Indeed, the DRV did not recognize the existence of the Republic of Vietnam.22 The views of the South Vietnamese, which were thoroughly consistent with those of the JCS, were not those of the Nixon administration. Two weeks before the accords were signed, the departing secretary of defense, Melvin Laird, stated in his valedictory report that the war had concluded satisfactorily for the United States. Irrespective of the signing of a peace treaty between the parties, Vietnamization had been so successful that there was no longer any need for U.S. combat troops in South Vietnam. At the same time, congressional leaders expressed gratitude that the war was nally coming to an end. As far as the communist world was concerned, the Washington Post reported that the Soviets and Chinese were eager to end the conict, because it no longer served their political interests vis--vis the United States. MILITARYS ROLE AFTER PARIS In the wake of the Paris Peace Accords, the U.S. militarys role in Indochina came to an end. The massive air campaign of the previous December or the coordinated response to Hanois 1972 offensive would not be replicated. Instead, MACVs responsibilities were strictly one of nal withdrawal from Vietnam. This process involved turning over all remaining U.S. responsibilities to the South Vietnamese. By March 29, 1973, the entire edice of U.S. involvement in the Republic of Vietnam was dismantled. The military organization MACV was discontinued. In its place, the Defense Attache for the U.S. embassy had responsibility to report to Washington on the needs and effectiveness of the RVNAF. As noted, the RVNAF was left with one of the largest military infrastructures in the world. The standing armed forces of the Republic of Vietnam stood at over 1,100,000 men in spring 1973. The ARVN alone had almost 900 operational helicopters, as well as more than 20,000 artillery guns, 2,000 track vehicles and numerous other assets. Nonetheless, the Paris Agreements left 170,000 PAVN troops deployed in South Vietnam. Some 11 divisions and 24 regiments of PAVN regulars were al-

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lied with over 150,000 regular and irregular NLF troops. Further, another 100,000 North Vietnamese troops were deployed just over the border in Laos and Cambodia. Although the RVNAF had a trained and very well-equipped military force, they did not have control over the Republic of Vietnams borders, and a huge conventional and unconventional enemy force was situated throughout the northern and central regions of the country. Immediately after the signing in Paris, huge truck convoys loaded with supplies moved along the Ho Chi Minh trail system. Lacking the ability to cut off the supply system supporting these forces in the South, and also decient in the means of maintaining the expensive military infrastructure it inherited from the United States, it was only a matter of time before a reinforced PAVN, supplied by its larger allies, would launch another major campaign to destroy the RVNAF and force the surrender of the RVN government. This seemed inevitable when the Nixon administration forced through the Paris Peace Accords of 1973, simultaneously ignoring the South Vietnamese, who bitterly opposed the agreement, and the North Vietnamese, who were ruthlessly attacked until they agreed to return to the peace table.23 The driving force behind the Paris Accords was the overwhelming antiwar sentiment in the Congress. The U.S. Congress, supported by domestic and international public opinion, had demanded an end to the war with increasing ferocity throughout Richard Nixons rst term. In the end, Nixon was threatened with a unilateral American withdrawal by the cutting off of funds if he had not ended the U.S. involvement by treaty. As long as the POWs returned, the Congress and the Nixon administration were satised with the end of U.S. intervention. The loss of South Vietnam and of Indochina in its entirety would not favor U.S. interests. However, by 1973, the Cold War had changed markedly. China had now opened a dialogue with the United States that culminated in Nixons trip to Beijing in 1972, effectively ending the Cold War between the two countries. The Soviets had also been visited by Nixon in 1972. They, too, were eager for an end of the Cold War and the nuclear arms race. They viewed the Chinese as much of a threat to their security as the United States. For the Soviets and for the Chinese, the United States was a key relationship that they needed to balance the rivalry between them. This became very apparent to China during the late 1970s and 1980s, when the opening of the Nixon years moved toward a de facto strategic alliance. With the new relationship of dtente with China and the Soviet Union, Nixon and Kissinger no longer feared the domino effect to the extent that they feared it in 1965. The loss of South Vietnam, if that were to occur, was of far less importance in January 1973. For the Amer-

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ican public and for Congress, the domino theory had no relevance at all. The loss of men and the deterioration of public authority in the United States had made the noble ideas of the early 1960s, to defend the free world in Southeast Asia, disregarded as contemptible myths. This was not the initial position of the Nixon administration, who believed rmly in their strategic planning for the war beginning in late 1968, that the defense of South Vietnam was of no critical importance to the United States. Indeed, during the rst year of his administration, Richard Nixon had a previous internal memorandum written by Lyndon Johnsons national security advisor, Walt Rostow, circulated to his staff. The paper summarized the strategic importance of South Vietnam to the United States. One of the dire consequences predicted by Rostow and accepted by Nixon was the loss of Asia, where, it was surmised, some 60 percent of the worlds population would live by the year 2000.24 The core ideological validity of the domino theory did not end with the Johnson administration. What did change was the extraordinary force of an antiwar movement that compelled Nixon and Kissinger to work toward a negotiated withdrawal, a peace with honor. The diplomatic strategy that culminated in the Paris settlement was presaged upon the salvaging of Americas international prestige. Clearly, Kissinger had no illusions about the future when he wrote his famous healthy interval memorandum: Therefore a negotiated settlement had always been far preferable. Rather than run the risk of South Vietnam crumbling around our remaining forces, a peace settlement would end the war with an act of policy and leave the future of South Vietnam to the historical process.25 On August 15, 1973, less than seven months after the signing at Paris, President Nixon, already consumed by the Watergate scandal that would end his presidency, signed congressional legislation that permanently ended all U.S. military actions in Indochina. Congress, in its determination to ensure the end of U.S. military involvement, prohibited funds for any air and land combat operations by U.S. forces in the Indochina theater. At the same time, the North Vietnamese began an intensive supply and reinforcement of its forces in the South. In 1973 and 1974, more than 6 million tons of Soviet bloc aid, in the form of food, ammunition and weapons, were supplied to North Vietnam. In reality, the Paris Peace Accords was merely a legal agreement for U.S. disengagement. By the time Kissinger and his North Vietnamese counterpart were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October 1973, more than 40,000 South Vietnamese soldiers alone had died in the interim. The war continued for more than two years after Paris treaty, with the U.S. militarys role, after August 1973, purely advisory, without even a

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formal advisory force in place. Left largely to their own resources, with only a fraction of the material support supplied by the United States in the 1960s and early 1970s, the South Vietnamese fought on in a desperate war for survival.26 THE FALL: THE LOSS OF VIETNAM, CAMBODIA AND LAOS IN 1975 The narrative for the fall of the Indochina in spring 1975 is familiar. The failed anticommunist regimes watched helplessly as the communist armies, the PAVN and PLA in Vietnam, the Pathet Lao and Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, surrounded the capital cities of their respective countries. Quickly, the last resistance was overcome. Refugees, including almost all of the former government ofcials and their families, ed to wherever they could nd sanctuary. In Washington, the Ford administration was helpless. Indeed, they had tried one last time to avoid the collapse, a strategic blow to the United States, but there was simply no support in Congress or in the public. The American publics indifference was more than transparent. While the residual diplomatic and military personnel the United States maintained in the region worked desperately to see if somehow Washington could deliver some last-minute assistance, determined revolutionary armies marched into Saigon, Vientiane and Phnom Penh. The massively resupplied North Vietnamese Army was able to overcome a numerically superior but dramatically weakened RVNAF. Prior to the end of U.S. involvement, MACV had dumped huge amounts of weapons, vehicles and aircraft on the South Vietnamese. Most of it, however, was not operational, without extensive training and maintenance that the Republic of Vietnam could not afford. After 1972, U.S. military aid declined dramatically. For 1975, the last year of the war, Congress passed a foreign aid bill that appropriated only $700 million. Even this amount, a fraction of previous support levels, was eaten up by congressionally mandated overhead expenditures of $120 million. Without billions of dollars in military assistance, which had been customary, the fundamental resources for engaging a resurgent North Vietnam were no longer in place. North Vietnamese combat deaths were estimated at 39,000 in 1973, but this was down from over a 100,000 per year that they averaged from 1966 through 1972. The expenditure of ammunition by South Vietnam, peaked at 861,000 tons in 1972. The same year, the United States expended 1,000,000 tons in military operations in country. Only a year later, the RVNAF used only 348,000 tons, a drop of over 80 percent from 1972. Finally, in 1974, the consumption gure dropped to 248,000 tons.27

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Nonetheless, the North Vietnamese forces that launched its successful campaign to defeat the South in 1975 were still badly disadvantaged in arms and ammunition. The PAVN had a critical shortage of ammunition, limited supplies of petroleum and far fewer tanks and artillery pieces than the RVNAF. The greatest advantage the PAVN had was its military leadership. Despite the lack of critical resources, the PAVN launched a bold and brilliant assault on key ARVN defensive positions in the Central Highlands. The desperate shortfall in ammunition was solved by the capture of large South Vietnamese stores, as the panicked and utterly surprised ARVN forces ceded approximately half of the country to the North Vietnamese. The collapse of the South Vietnamese armed forces came within a matter of weeks. From the middle of March to the end of April 1975, North Vietnamese and NLF units converged on Saigon, capturing district capitals, key roads, airelds and bases along the way. Profound pleas for assistance to the United States received no response. As late as January 15, 1975, President Ford, a staunch supporter of the war from the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution onward, told the media that he could not foresee any circumstances where U.S. forces would be reintroduced to Indochina. A supplemental military aid appropriation was pushed by Ford and his secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, but the Congress refused to act, even as South Vietnam moved quickly toward surrender and dissolution. In the aftermath of the fall of Saigon, hundreds of thousands of refugees were evacuated by the U.S. Navy, or ooded the South China Sea in their own boats. South Vietnamese Air Force jets and naval vessels ed to the United States. A vast Vietnamese diaspora settled in North America, Europe and Australia. Simultaneously, the fall of Laos and Cambodia led to similar mass exoduses, as reprisals began against progovernment elements of the population. In Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge began their three-year reign of terror and genocide. In the unfolding tragedy, the role of the U.S. military was now as rescuer. No longer authorized to engage the enemy with B-52s, F-4 ghters or mobile combat units, the U.S. Navy and Air Force had a primary mission to rescue the survivors of the war who had fought for the United States, and in subsequent years, to save the ensuing waves of Indochinese who ed into the ocean in whatever vessels they could acquire. For the military, the loss of Indochina was a deep blow to the morale and prestige of the armed services. The overriding legacy of the war was a study in failure. The denouement had begun as early as 1965. The war had been misconceived. Whether or not the conict made sense according to strategic doctrine, the constraints on action proved a decisive

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weakness for winning the war. The combination of pacication, nation building, Vietnamization, counterinsurgency warfare and conventional war had resulted in enormous casualties for the Vietnamese, but no victory for the United States. Instead, the U.S. armed forces, a damaged institution, retreated from Indochina, having lost the rst war in American history.28

6
Alternative Means
As we have seen, the conduct of the Vietnam War was an extremely complex enterprise. It involved multiple strategies working in multiple spheres, at multiple levels within and outside the government. The results of these processes were decidedly mixed, and ultimately, they failed to win the war. What many historians and political scientists have asked about the war concerns whether alternative means of waging the conict would have resulted in a more favorable outcome for the United States and its ally the Republic of Vietnam. In other words, were the strategies employed by U.S. special forces, diplomats, psychological warfare specialists and other groups outside of the conventional military forces used in the war capable of winning the war, either by themselves or with support of the conventional military? The alternative methods for ghting the war introduced in Indochina became part of American war capabilities during the postVietnam War era. Overall, they were effective means of supporting the big-unit war. Whether they could have won the conict by themselves, or if they were the principal means of U.S. intervention, is a counterfactual question of history. For U.S. civil-military relations, however, the alternative or unconventional means were an important area of discussion. Naturally, the civilian leadership, especially the antiwar leaders in the Congress, had more condence in the unconventional than the conventional means for waging the war. In their estimates, the alternative means that involved nation building and small-arms warfare was far more acceptable,

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morally and politically, than the major form of modern war that was so costly to life, property and political capital.1 EFFECTIVE MILITARY STRATEGIES DURING THE WAR As we have seen, the big-unit ground war and the search-anddestroy strategy employed by the U.S. Army had limited effectiveness against the combined forces of the NLF and North Vietnam. Without attacking the political infrastructure in the South, the Viet Cong were able to continuously regenerate their forces. The casualties inicted on the communists were severe, but the supply of soldiers was plentiful whether recruited in the villages of the South or sent by the North Vietnamese down the Ho Chi Minh trail system. The North Vietnamese could always reconstitute forces destroyed by the United States and the South Vietnamese, all the while waiting for the political and diplomatic modes of struggle to overcome their superpower opponent. Even the massive losses suffered by the NLF and the PAVN during the 1968 Tet Offensive did not nish the endemic communist insurgency in South Vietnam. Beginning with Edward Lansdales famous dissent in the rst year of the Kennedy administration, a parallel military strategy hoped to defeat the communists through unconventional means. Lansdales central idea, which was the original concept of counterinsurgency warfare dened by U.S. special operations forces in the early 1960s, was to avoid large-unit warfare, and focus on ghting the war at the village level. The small arms, local approach to the conict, adopted from counterinsurgency methods developed in the Philippines and Malaysia during the 1950s, showed success in its rst use during the Kennedy administration. Nonetheless, the new unorthodox approach to low-intensity conict was quickly overtaken by the classic maneuver warfare practiced by the U.S. Army beginning in the mid-1960s. As U.S. intervention escalated in 1965 and 1966, counterinsurgency warfare was characterized by the air-mobile assaults on Viet Congcontrolled villages. This type of aggressive and extremely destructive counterinsurgency played a very deleterious role for the U.S. armed forces in both domestic and world opinion. Media images of burning villages and wounded civilians had a devastating effect on the prestige of the United States and its armed forces around the world. A politically far more palatable, and perhaps more effective, approach to CI was the village-based approach introduced by Lansdale, John Paul Vann and other key U.S. advisors.2

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COVERT OPERATIONS IN THE INDOCHINA THEATER All military organizations desire and use covert or secret operations. To minimize the political costs of U.S. military operations, both domestic and international, presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon all authorized such secret operations for the Indochina theater. Most of the operations involved special operations forces whose missions required penetration of enemy-held territory for the purposes of sabotage and intelligence gathering. The Vietnam War led to the development of U.S. special forces as a major adjunct to the main force units of the armed forces. Using both U.S. and South Vietnamese units, special operations identied major concentrations of VC and PAVN forces who were stationed in Cambodia and Laos in staging areas for movement into the main areas of battle in South Vietnam. The most aggressive use of covert operations was in the Nixon administration. Nixon had no qualms authorizing secret military operations including the use of heavy bombers without the knowledge or consent of Congress. Nixon believed passionately in the same doctrine that his predecessors did, namely, the domino theory. His paranoid personality, very well documented in both primary and secondary sources at the end of this book, induced him to view the mass media, and much of the Washington establishment as bent upon his destruction. His inherent mistrust of the press, Congress and foreign adversaries of the United States gave him the motivation to authorize possibly illegal actions for the U.S. military. The military leadership followed Nixons orders, whether or not they were consistent with national or international law.3 ORIGINAL CI OPERATIONS IN THE CENTRAL HIGHLANDS 19611963 Some of the documents produced by the U.S. government during the Vietnam War were ethnographic studies of indigenous Malay-Polynesian tribes who lived in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. Anthropologists connected with American University in Washington, D.C., were under government contract to describe these tribes, their origins, languages, social structures, cultural belief systems and, most importantly, ways that U.S. military forces, the new special force groups trained in North Carolina, could mobilize these non-Vietnamese peoples to wage war against the VC and the North Vietnamese. The original concept of counterinsurgency had nothing to do with search-and-destroy missions. CI as taught at the Armys special warfare

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school in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, had very little in common with traditional military strategy that the U.S. Army had used in Europe during the First and Second World Wars. Beginning in 1962, CI training at Fort Bragg involved a curriculum that bore more resemblance to graduate school in the social sciences than combat training. In preparation for CI work in Vietnam, special warfare soldiers were taught basic knowledge about Vietnamese history, politics, geography and culture. They learned the structure and functions of the NLF and the VC, and methods they could use to organize native resistance to the communists.4 The original mission for U.S. special forces was to recruit, train and deploy non-Vietnamese Montagnard tribesmen who lived in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam. This program, known as the Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG), was a highly successful operation. In South Vietnam, and later in Laos, U.S. unconventional warfare specialists lived with, befriended and mobilized thousands of these indigenous tribal peoples to wage war against the NLF and the PAVN. They provided unique knowledge of the terrain in the remote areas where the communist forces were deployed. The benets were considerable, and were comparatively inexpensive to the United States in both funds and troops.5 This form of counterinsurgency worked extremely well, until it was superceded by the conventional military approaches of MACV in 1963. The senior military ofcers in the Army and the JCS had little interest in irregular forces or unconventional warfare. The military leadership both in Indochina and in Washington viewed war as an instrument for deploying large-scale conventional forces that would engage and destroy the conventional forces of an adversary. What the U.S. military soon learned was that Vietnam was very different. The large-unit warfare favored by a generation of ofcers who had experienced the Second World War and Korea, overshadowed the undened, seemingly quixotic methods of such CI warriors as Edward Lansdale and John Paul Vann. Yet, as U.S. combat units began deployment to South Vietnam in 1965, the realities of irregular warfare became obvious even to conventionally trained military ofcers. To defeat an enemy like the Viet Cong that could mobilize, disburse and regenerate its forces in a completely clandestine manner, that lived off a very tiny external supply system and food supplied by local peasants, the United States needed to deploy its own unconventional forces. PHOENIX PROGRAM There was no more controversial program during the Vietnam War than the Phoenix or Phu Hoang program. Begun during the Johnson

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Administration, by Robert Komer and William Colby, CIA eld ofcers, the program was the descendant of the Cog An program of the 1950s. Diems original counterinsurgency program was ruthless but effective in rooting out the Viet Cong infrastructure in the South. From 1954 to 1959, Diems secret policy reduced the political cadres of the Lao Dong party to fewer than a 1,000 individuals. The reactivation of the revolution in the South created the Viet Cong, who then began a systematic assassination program aimed at the Cong An or South Vietnamese police state in the rural areas of the South. In response to the new insurgency movement, which protected the political cadres in the hamlets and villages, Diem attempted to relocate vulnerable village populations into Agrovilles. This program, between 1959 and 1961, was abandoned for the Strategic Hamlet program of the Kennedy administration.6 The Strategic Hamlet program, inspired by the experiences of the British in defeating their own Malayan communist insurgency during the 1950s, was thought to be a great success. Thousands of hamlets in the Delta, the Highlands and along the coast appeared secure from VC attacks. This was an illusion, as the Johnson administration discovered in its rst month in ofce. The VC were very successful in overrunning the hamlets after government troops had withdrawn from the area. Once the hamlet was captured, it was compromised and incorporated into the revolutions support system, providing soldiers, spies and needed food and supplies to VC units in the eld.7 In 1967, after two years of war against the VC and PAVN units in the South, the CIA was tasked to rebuild the CI effort to attack the enemy political cadres. It had become very clear to the Johnson administration that without the defeat of the Viet Cong Infrastructure (VCI), the war of attrition against the enemy in the South would never end. The NLF could rebuild its forces almost indenitely, while providing intelligence and logistical support for the North Vietnamese Army in the South. Just like its predecessor, the Viet Minh organization during the French Indochina War, the NLF was built around vast numbers of small local cells. These political cells, at the hamlet and village level, organized the resistance in the rice paddies, where landless peasants resented their poverty, and where the provision of basic services such as education and health care were an opportunity to build the resistance movement in the South. At higher levels, district- and province-level cells coordinated the actions of the hamlet and village-level units. The clandestine political cadres, whose historical roots lay in millennia of underground resistance movements to foreign invaders, were operational in nearly every village in South Vietnam and in the cities as well. The NLF or VCI had penetrated

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every segment of South Vietnamese civil society, and all levels of the government, providing a steady ow of sabotage and espionage activity for the revolution.8 Estimates of the size of the VCI ranged from 80,000 to 150,000 during the late 1960s. They were responsible for recruiting agents and soldiers in the South, raising money through taxes and inicting damage on the enemy through extensive covert actions, including espionage, assassinations, the destruction of military assets and the requisition of enemy munitions and weapons. The intimidation and assassination of government ofcials and progovernment civilians was a critical function of the VCI in the South. The liquidation of civil administration in the rural areas enabled the NLF to take effective control of hamlets and villages. Through intelligence work, sabotage, and the mobilization of people and resources, the NLF was critical to the support of the VC. In turn, the VC were critical for protecting the political cadres from destruction by the local and regional militias, the ARVN and the various allied forces under the command of the United States.9 The political and military divisions of the Vietnamese communist party in the South supported one another. In turn, they were given critical political, logistical and combat support from the much larger resources of the North Vietnamese. North Vietnam supplied its best combat divisions, supplies from both the North and the aid delivered by allied socialist countries around the world. Finally, the North provided global political warfare, through its worldwide propaganda effort to support the combined communist objective for liberating the fatherland from the Americans and the noncommunist South Vietnamese. Just as the American war effort was truly a global enterprise, so was the war effort of the Vietnamese communist party. The North Vietnamese leadership were all ardent believers in Marxist-Leninism as a political and military doctrine. They viewed the war as the culmination of more than a century of Vietnamese struggle to overthrow foreign domination, but also as a cycle of history, where the forces of imperialism were opposed by the emerging class-consciousness of a global proletariat. In principle, there was nothing that the North Vietnamese would not sacrice to win the war, in terms of people or property. Phoenix came under the institutional rubric of MACVs Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Services (CORDS) program. Identied by its Vietnamese name Phung Hoang in the 1971 CORDS advisor eld manual, the programs purpose was the destruction of the political infrastructure of the NLF for South Vietnam. The primary responsibility for Phung Hoang was the national police in the Republic of Vietnam. The activities of the South Vietnamese national police or special forces

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were under the supervision at rst by CORDS and MACV. However, by 1969, William Colby, CIA station chief in Vietnam, assumed administrative responsibility. The mission of Phoenix was to expose, and destroy, the VCI. From the late 1960s, through the early 1970s, the damage done by Phoenix against the NLF was impressive. Using primarily U.S. special forces in command of specially trained South Vietnamese units, tens of thousands of VCI were neutralized, either through capture, surrender, defection to the South Vietnamese side or death in close combat with Phoenix units in the eld. Critics of the program have identied Phoenix as a brutal means of counterinsurgency warfare that employed assassination and torture of civilians as standard methods of operation. In fact, strong evidence from postwar oral interviews of Phoenix advisors suggests that torture and killing were common among provincial and regional militia units. This was probably an inevitable outcome of the war at the local level. The war involved desperate Vietnamese peasants ghting one another for survival. In a civil conict that pitted one group of impoverished rice farmers against another group of the same, a cycle of merciless retribution was to be expected. Atrocities were committed using all manner of knives, guns and blunt instruments, as well as grenades, amethrowers and whatever else could be devised.10 Despite the success of the pacication systems employed by CORDS, Congressional investigators remained deeply skeptical of the reported results. Journalists, including major U.S. opinion makers such as the New York Times and the Washington Post, believed that pacication under the Phoenix program was a Potemkin-like device designed to deceive public opinion in the same way that many other Vietnam operations were found to be fraudulent and or illegal. As with all U.S. government programs during the Vietnam War, military and civilian, they were evaluated according to social scientic methods of analysis. CORDS advisors had strict guidelines for the observation and supervision of the pacication activities by the South Vietnamese. The Hamlet Evaluation System was a systematic, that is, scientic attempt to measure the effectiveness of pacication methods in South Vietnam. Administratively, every hamlet, village, district and province in South Vietnam was under constant statistical evaluation by CORDS advisors and CIA analysts. In many respects, the control systems employed under Phoenix as well as other pacication programs were analogous to those found in authoritarian and totalitarian regimes around the world. The purpose of Phoenix was to identify and root out through capture, defection or physical elimination, the entire VCI in South Vietnam. Without the VCI, the war in the South would depend solely on the

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PAVN, a conventional military force, which in theory could be held in check or defeated by the ARVN with the support of U.S. forces.11 The logic behind the implementation of CORDS and the Phoenix program in particular was impeccable. The results, ve years of intensive effort, 19671972, were impressive. By the end of direct U.S. involvement, the Viet Cong, as mentioned in chapter 5, were reduced to a shadow of their former strength. When the PAVN rode into Saigon on their tanks in 1975, a substantial percentage of the Viet Cong soldiers in the eld were North Vietnamese soldiers recruited to keep up the faade that the Southern movement still had a creditable military force. Yet the fundamental weakness of the Phoenix program, as well as CORDS, MACV and the rest of the U.S. military operations in Indochina, was the loss of public support in the United States. Despite success, the antiwar critics remained rm in their convictions that the war was immoral, it could not be won with either conventional or unconventional military means and that it simply was not worth the enormous cost in lives, domestic unrest, federal money and the loss of international prestige. CHIEU HOIOPEN ARMS A mode of CI warfare that was in fact not warfare at all might have been the most effective means against the VC and the North Vietnamese. An adjunct to the Phoenix program involved no brutality or combat by the South Vietnamese or U.S. forces. This method of pacication relied on purely psychological operations that attempted to bring the communists to defect to the Government of Vietnam (GVN). The amnesty program of the GVN was undoubtedly the most cost-effective method of pacication. Observing results against resources used, government amnesty, which involved more than just accepting defection, was of immense value to military intelligence and to the general reduction of the military threat facing the South Vietnamese government. The Chieu Hoi or Open Arms program was responsible for 145,000 defections by Viet Cong soldiers and NLF political cadres. The full name of the program translated as The movement to regroup misled members of the resistance.12 The program was based on the simple idea that Vietnamese are not joiners. GVN and VC must propagandize, cajole, entrap and draft recruits.13 Since the VC units were made up of reluctant followers, who fought for the revolution not because of a genuine ideological commitment but for very pragmatic reasons including their own safety and that of their family, the Chieu Hoi program was designed to produce as many defections as possible.

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In total program cost, this psychological warfare operation had stunning results. No other method approached the utility of persuading the VC to give up and defect to the governments side. The program was labor intensive for the South Vietnamese, requiring endless propaganda campaigns in VC-controlled areas. However, for the United States, the program was virtually without costphysical, psychological or budgetary. To begin with, U.S. force participation numbered no more than seventy individuals, half of whom were non-U.S. nationals. In fact, literally a handful of U.S. military advisors were involved directly in Hoi Chieu. From the late 1960s through the early 1970s, scores of ARVN psychological warfare teams known as APTs or Armed Propaganda Teams made recurring sweeps into communist controlled areas. With loudspeakers, millions of pamphlets and many thousands of hours of local radio broadcast, the Hoi Chieu program deluged VC and PAVN units with entreaties to defect. Some 50 million pamphlets a month were printed in the Philippines by JUSPAO and shipped to ARVN propaganda teams in the eld. At its peak, more than 2,000 communist soldiers and cadres walked into Hoi Chieu centers set up in safe areas around the country. The defectors were debriefed and then led through a process of reintegration into South Vietnam society that involved new identity cards and the relocation of their families to new communities.14 In strategic terms, the Hoi Chieu program was an important operational strategy that further weakened the political and military infrastructure of the NLF. It had virtually zero cost to the United States in casualties, and provided signicant attrition without inicting harm on a deeply wounded civilian population. Along with the Phoenix program, the expansion of regional and popular forces and the huge battleeld losses sustained by the VC units in combat against United States, ARVN and other allied forces, the southern resistance was largely defeated by the early 1970s. NATION BUILDING IN SOUTH VIETNAM Chieu Hoi and its more aggressive counterpart, Phung Hoang, were ancillary to the central doctrines of Vietnamization. The Nixon administration had embraced Vietnamization as their exit strategy. However, the theory behind Vietnamization was premised, as so much of the war planning was, on the social science concept so particular to American intellectual culture since the Second World War. Pacication, Vietnamization and all manner of programs and terms under these rubrics were grounded on American idea of modernization or nation building. Modernization has a longer pedigree in Western social science than postSecond World War

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America, but it was embraced at mid-century by a new world power trying to conceptualize how the world would be shaped according to its own cultural, political and economic framework. From the 1940s, U.S. social science and strategic doctrine converged on the central concept of stabilizing and building the postcolonial world to accommodate the United States. The domino theory articulated by President Eisenhower in 1954 was premised on the emerging social science literature on developing societies, which had been funded in part by the new Cold War national security institutions. Eisenhower himself was not schooled in 1950s social science. However, the premise of his metaphor was precisely that. With apparent ease and honesty, he communicated the idea of falling dominoes to a worldwide audience, suggesting that America faced a very unstable and threatening world that required an active rather than passive or isolationist approach in foreign affairs. Implicit in his folksy and visual analogy was the idea that social revolution was uid, unpredictable and transnational. A violent revolution in one country in the underdeveloped world could lead very quickly to the toppling of immature political regimes in quick succession. A long row of adjacent countries, their newly formed governments held together by the most tenuous local coalitions, could all fall to the revolutionary forces of international communism. The victory of communism in one underdeveloped country would immediately catalyze insurgency in neighboring countries, making a wave of totalitarianism in the Third World inevitable. The fear in Vietnam, which was foundational to U.S. national security doctrine during the Eisenhower era, and remained so through the end of the Cold War, was the lightening effect of defeat. To insulate the West from defeat not only in Vietnam and Indochina, but throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America, the United States had to employ a systematic strategy of modernization. In Vietnam, U.S.-directed modernization was begun with the generous civilian aid programs during the Diem regime. The U.S. governments civilian agencies, namely, the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Information Agency, and the Department of the Treasury had specic objectives mandated by the White House and the Congress to modernize South Vietnam. A truly viable noncommunist and independent Republic of Vietnam had to engage in a rapid and effective program of political, economic and social modernization.15 The U.S. military played a signicant, if only supporting, role in the nation-building process. The modernization that most concerned MACV related to the military institutions of the South Vietnamese armed forces. The creation of prosperous and developing civil society was essential for

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the survival of the country. However, the need for security, produced by the various branches of the RVNAF, was of primary concern to MACV and the JCS. Still, the exigencies of winning the war against one of the worlds most tenacious foes required successful and wide-ranging nationbuilding activities. DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS American intervention was premised on the defense of American and global liberal democracy. The Republic of Vietnam was always conceived as a representative democracy modeled after Western democratic societies. With the exception of military regimes between 1963 and 1965, South Vietnam functioned as a democratic society, albeit a deeply awed one. Liberal democracy was a major principle of U.S. foreign policy in Indochina. In countless internal policy documents, as well as public speeches, U.S. government ofcials declared their commitment to a democratic Republic of Vietnam. Nonetheless, despite considerable effort, the legacies of a Mandarin culture occupied for nearly a century by a European empire made authoritarian government a natural choice. Over time, with U.S. sponsorship, generals and South Vietnamese autocrats shared power with elected representatives. Parliamentary rule had to cope with ethnic and local power factions, who used all manner of corruption and illegality to undermine it. Finally, democratic institutions were impeded because the country was in a state of permanent civil war. With an indigenous guerrilla movement and a formidable Army from its rival in the North, the South Vietnamese government was barely able to survive with a large American Army assisting it. Implementing a wideranging and open liberal democracy was not possible in wartime. Alternatively, an emerging democratic regime, tested by a totalitarian adversary, was possible. Nonetheless, by 1970, with the NLF clearly in serious decline all over South Vietnam, the Thieu government with the help of U.S. advisors was able to hold local elections throughout South Vietnam. The voting for competitive slates of candidates resulted in elected local governments for 94 percent of South Vietnams population. Over 10,000 hamlets in more than 2,000 villages were able to participate in the national elections that year, leaving only 77 villages with 665 hamlets without participation. At the district, province and municipal levels, councilmen and senators were elected. With voter participation rates of over 80 percent and 90 percent in many provinces, and with multiple candidates and political parties participating in the elections, South Vietnam in 1970 represented an emerging parliamentary democracy.16

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Characteristic of South Vietnamese parliamentary democracy, political parties and candidates represented the interests of diverse groups within South Vietnamese society. Candidates representing Catholics, Buddhists, Hoa Hao and Cao Dai, progressive and conservative nationalists ran for ofce in the elections of the late 1960s and early 1970s. In August 1971, the number of candidates who ran for the lower house of the Republic of Vietnam legislature was 1,297. Some 7 million registered voters in a nation besieged by a civil war chose from a range of political parties and independent candidates. Despite the wartime restrictions on civil liberties and the dominance of the executive branch run by President Thieu, nothing in the documents from the period suggests that the country was not progressing toward a genuine liberal democratic society.17 Once again, the creation of an emerging democratic society in the South did not affect the prevailing consensus in American public opinion that by the mid-1970s had essentially written off South Vietnam. It did not matter to the American public, which had suffered hundreds of thousands of casualties, and political and cultural warfare over its intervention policy for almost a decade, that the South Vietnamese were demonstrating genuine aspects of Western democracy. The GVN was critiqued by the left as a corrupt military dictatorship, ripe with cronyism. For antiwar critics, the moral issue of defending the South Vietnam from a North Vietnamese invasion was obscene. Even for the most conservative segment of American public opinion that had supported the war up until its end in 1975, the moral obligation to defend South Vietnam as an ally and a democratic state did not warrant the reintroduction of U.S. military force, a requirement in spring 1975 if South Vietnam were to be saved. For the U.S. military, South Vietnamese democracy was not a reason to defend it, but its strategic place in the Cold War containment system was. Nonetheless, the JCS had no political inuence in 1975 that could force the Congress to return to South Vietnam to protect its parliament, its free press and lively intellectual community. Without political will, the U.S. military was without a foundation to defend Indochina. As an institution it remained damaged by the war. Its morale was weakened by defeat in Vietnam, and in the larger culture, its image remained under siege by antiwar critics who focused on alleged war crimes committed during the conict. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT The Eisenhower administration had the strongest interest in providing extensive foreign aid to modernize South Vietnams economy. Aid was

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furnished through the International Cooperation Administration (ICA), the predecessor organization to the USAID, as well as major private organizations recruited by the government to assist the Diem regime. The two private groups who were very prominent in economic advice and assistance were the Michigan State University Vietnam Advisory Group, composed of college professors from MSU who were experts in civil administration; and the American Friends of Vietnam, a private group with ties to Diem and South Vietnam and the U.S. government. A conference in March 1957 sponsored by the American Friends of Vietnam, brought a range of scholars, administrators, diplomats and businessmen together to discuss the ICAs proposed development agenda for the Republic of Vietnam. The purpose of the conference was explicit: Since achieving real national independence in 1954, the Republic of Vietnam has proven to be one of the United States most reliable and stable allies in Asia. . . . It has become increasingly clear since those rst years of consolidation that for Free Vietnam, as for almost every other newly-independent Asian nation, true independence and internal freedom are rmly linked with economic progress. Indeed, in the view of many specialists, the economic development of Vietnam has, since order was restored, become the primary need for the Vietnamese people and their Government.18 All major aspects of economic modernization in terms of capitalist development were discussed by forty-three invited roundtable members. The conversations included prominent development economists, political scientists specializing in Third World development, investment and commercial bankers, lawyers, accountants, economic sector specialists and professional diplomats from the State Department. The topics for analysis included Vietnams export and import policies, foreign exchange, scal and monetary policies including ination control, technical manpower needs, transportation and agricultural development, prospects for heavy and light industry, mining and the development of electrical power. In broad terms, the conference sought to dene a rational and very ambitious development plan to bring South Vietnam into mid- and late twentieth century as a mature, industrialized nation with the ability to sustain and grow its economic system independent of foreign assistance. By 1960, the U.S. government had provided 1.3 billion dollars in economic assistance to South Vietnam. Active projects in the republic during scal year 1960 included agricultural education, agrarian or land reform administration, rural and urban water supply development, highway and bridge construction, telecommunications, including

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the establishment of a national radio network, sheries development, electric power, various programs to expand and develop public health and education and various management training programs for public administration and community service.19 The 1972 AID report on South Vietnam showed that steady development progress had been made despite the serious effects of the war. In spite of the war and a growing population, the country was self-sufcient in rice, producing more than 6 million tons in 1972. This represented a substantial increase from ve years earlier, when rice production was less than 5 million tons, prompting the government to import a substantial amount of food to make up for the shortfall. In other areas, including industrial development, the government had numerous programs in place to nance new industry. In general economic terms, the country was prospering, although not booming in the way that other developing economies in East Asia were beginning to do. Given the burden of the war, which required the majority of able-bodied males to enlist in the armed forces, economic development was on a steady course at the end of the American ground war in the early 1970s. LAND REFORM Land reform was a major priority for U.S. and South Vietnamese ofcials. It was well understood by intelligence analysts that a critical source of support for the insurgency in the South had to do with landlessness and the odious terms of tenant farming. Under French colonial rule, plantations of 10,000 acres harvested rice, rubber and other tropical products for the overseas market. As the population in Vietnam grew, the extent of landlessness became a severe social, economic and political problem. The Viet Minh began their revolution by using the same methods used by the communist party in China. The capture and distribution of land from French and wealthy Vietnamese landlords created a natural base of support for the revolution. Indeed in South Vietnam, the NLF had built its revolution by focusing on the tenant farmers in the South who had little to lose from a peoples war against a regime owned by a corrupt urban elite and sponsored by a foreign country.20 While the Diem regime began an extensive land reform program in the 1950s, it was never close to meeting the demands of more than half the rural population for free land to engage in subsistence farming. The Viet Cong used the same land reform measures used during the French War. As they captured hamlets and villages, they conscated all the land of the landlords and the government for free distribution to the supporters of the revolution in their local areas. For those who resisted them, execution

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was a common fate. For those loyal to the NLFSV, entitlement to liberated land was expected and directed by the leadership in the South and the North. In response, CORDS and the Thieu-Ky government, which assumed power in 1966, helped to implement a far more attractive and egalitarian land reform program. By 1970, the government had reduced individual land ownership in the densely populated Mekong Delta to no more than 7.4 acres, with an average allotment of under 3 acres per family. In the country as a whole, the maximum ownership for a working farm was no more than thirty-seven acres.21 This policy was very effective in winning popular support among peasants who were at rst reluctant to support a central government that appeared to be on the side of landowning class. In response to the new land reform measures, the Viet Cong increased their terror operations at the village and hamlet level to maintain their political infrastructure. By the early 1970s, land reform was no longer a major revolutionary issue in the South. The VCI could no longer recruit thousands of landless peasants to overthrow corrupt government ofcials who exploited them for their labor and kept government aid funds to themselves. The United States through its CORDS program and USAID had sponsored a very successful agricultural reform program by the Republic of Vietnam. As a consequence, a major structural determinant of the communist insurgency had been neutralized. PUBLIC EDUCATION Central components to nation building and modernization are the basic public institutions that provide health care and universal education. These were priorities from the very beginning of the Republic of Vietnam, for both Vietnamese and U.S. ofcials. From the mid-1950s through the mid-1970s, extensive reporting by MACV and other U.S. government agencies monitored and assisted in planning for both public education and public health administration in South Vietnam. The objective in the South, as was also true in North Vietnam, was the development of universal access to primary school education, vastly increased access to secondary and postsecondary education, and a comprehensive national health-care system for citizens. During the colonial period, education was considered primarily for the elite. For the year 19391940, only 260,000 elementary school students were enrolled in what was to become South Vietnam. At the time of French withdrawal, that number had only increased to 330,000. There were only twenty-nine public high schools in all of South Vietnam,

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with 21,000 students. Together with private high schools, there were 51,000 high school students, which represented only 3 percent of the eligible population. Higher education was limited to ve colleges with enrollment of a little over 2,000. Just four years later, all of these numbers had tripled. Elementary schools enrolled 873,000 students for 19581959. Public secondary school enrollment had increased to more 51,000, and there were ten colleges and universities with 7,500 students.22 With extensive U.S. government aid, the expansion of South Vietnams educational system continued at a dramatic pace, even while the country itself was engaged in a full-scale civil war. By 1967, secondaryschool enrollment had jumped another 800 percent to 432,000 students. As of the 19691970 school year, more than 630,000 high school students were enrolled in the Republic of Vietnam, a 1,200 percent increase in just fteen years. By 1970, 25 percent of high schoolage students in South Vietnam were in secondary schools. The governments goal was to achieve universal primary school education and 6570 percent enrollment in high school by 1980.23 Finally, university education had begun a dramatic rise from the late 1950s. The number of students had increased to nearly 50,000 with a projected rise of 10,000 per year at least through the mid-1970s. By 1971, Saigon University had over 34,000 students. This was up from just over 4,000 enrolled in 1957. The University of Hue, which had only 670 students in 1957, had more than ve times that number by 1970. Saigon, the largest and most important of South Vietnams ve universities had established professional schools in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and architecture.24 HEALTH CARE A 1963 Walter Reed Hospital Army medical publication provided a discussion of the state of public health in the Republic of Vietnam. Only one-third of the countrys population had access to potable water. Sewage and waste disposal systems were rudimentary and only found in the large cities. Malnutrition due to lack of protein in the diet was prevalent in all areas of the country except the delta. Infant mortality, ofcially 43 per 1,000 births, was estimated in actual terms as 255 per 1,000 or 1 and 4 mortality during the rst twelve months of life. Common diseases among the South Vietnamese population included small pox, which was epidemic every three or four years, dysentery, malaria, intestinal parasites, tuberculosis, rabies and tetanus and trachoma (eye infections). Finally some 15,000 cases of leprosy were ofcially registered in the country.25

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In addition to these abysmal statistics, the ongoing war ooded hospitals with tens of thousands of civilian casualties every year. The improvement in public health, as well as the other areas of modernization, was considered an essential project for the support of South Vietnam as an independent country. In 1968, the U.S. Agency for International Development commissioned a four-volume study of provincial hospital modernization. The report recommended a ten-year program to build fty-eight provincial hospitals at a cost of 180 million dollars.26 By 1972, according to the USAID, many advances in public health had been done in South Vietnam. In 1953, there were only 10 dentists, 8 pharmacists and 130 physicians in all of Vietnam. By 1972, with extensive assistance from the United States, South Vietnam graduated 225 new physicians, 64 new dentists and 250 new pharmacists in that year alone. By the early 1970s, after nearly two decades of U.S. government and other international assistance, South Vietnam was able to provide familyplanning clinics, physical therapy and rehabilitation medicine throughout the country. The Ministry of Health employed 650 full-time physicians, a number large enough to allow the United States to withdraw its remaining medical personnel from civilian hospitals.27 VICTORY THROUGH ALTERNATIVE MEANS? The available statistical evidence from the war period shows South Vietnam as a modernizing nation-state, beneting from the extensive economic, technical and administrative assistance of the United States and other allied countries. Pacication, through the Phoenix, Hoi Chieu and other counterinsurgency programs had proven effective in reducing the strength and capabilities of the communist insurgency. Vietnamization, while deeply imperfect in its implementation, had produced a viable military force in the RVNAF. Given these historical estimates, a question that should be asked is whether the alternative methods of ghting the war could have won it. In other words, could nation building and unconventional warfare have been a more viable strategy for winning the conict than the standard military strategy employed by the U.S. military? During the Vietnam War, the communists were defeated through alternative means. Nonetheless, it would appear that the defeat of the enemy through weakening the revolutionary infrastructure in the South, developing the national economy and political system and strengthening the quality of the leadership and equipment of the South Vietnamese armed forces were necessary but not sufcient conditions for victory. No matter how more effective U.S. military and civilian assistance could have been between 1954 and 1975, the adversary remained a

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highly motivated, disciplined and skilled military force. The most perfect program of modernization in the South would not have deterred ardent Vietnamese in the north, committed communists and Vietnamese nationalists, from mobilizing their society to defeat a foreign enemy and its perceived illegitimate regime. The North also engaged in impressive nation building during the war, in spite of the massive attacks by the United States. North Vietnam beneted from extensive assistance from its socialist allies around the world, but in particular from China and the Soviet Union. We may only conclude that if the United States had emphasized the new methods of special or unconventional warfare in South Vietnam, they would have enhanced the ability of both the South Vietnamese and the United States to win the war in concert with its conventional military forces. The best CI practices would have weakened the Viet Cong, but it still required U.S. combat troops, artillery support and the massive air war to engage and destroy the crack North Vietnamese divisions that entered South Vietnam in the mid-1960s, and who stayed to capture Saigon in 1975. The civilian assistance programs under CORDS and AID to support the development and survival of the Republic of Vietnam always remained dependent on the conventional war fought by MACV, the RVNAF and other allied country expeditionary forces. From the perspective of General Creighton Abrams, MACV commander 1968 to 1973, pacication was an essential mission to win the war. However, his weapon of choice was the B-52 bomber. With more B-52 sorties against VC and PAVN concentrations throughout Indochina, the enemy would be subjected to the most terrifying and effective weapon in the U.S. conventional arsenal.28 While building schools, roads, hospitals, universities, factories, ports, telecommunications, radio and TV stations, water and sewage systems, agricultural support centers, that is, the infrastructure for a modern civil society was necessary and even vital for South Vietnams survival, the sheer power deployed by the B-52 was also vital and a prerequisite to forcing the enemy to withdraw its troops from the South. While the degradation of the VCI in the South was vital and necessary to bring government control over the rural areas where 80 percent of South Vietnams population lived, only conventional military means, by well-trained and motivated Army divisions, and devastating airpower used throughout Indochina, could engage and destroy the PAVN, depriving it of supplies, base camps and the ability to threaten South Vietnams cities. The alternative means premised on the best intentions of American internationalism could not have won the Vietnam War for the United States and the Republic of Vietnam. As in all wars, victory required imposing one nations will upon another.

7
Propaganda and Rhetoric
During the entire Vietnam War era, the dening description for all U.S. civil-military relations was adversarial. U.S. military operations, military institutions and leadership were constrained by every major avenue of civilian control. The Congress, the mass public and the principal civilian areas of the executive branch always imposed limits on U.S. military actions. Through more than a decade of war that involved American military personnel, civilian society and institutions alternatively supported and critiqued the use of force. Ultimately, the limits imposed on U.S. military action, combined with the general failure to achieve political and military objectives, resulted in military defeata rare occurrence in the nations history. At the heart of the adversarial relationship between the military and civilian society was the role of war propaganda. The ability to mobilize public opinion to ght a war is perhaps the most important function of propaganda. In American history, critical events including the attack on Fort Sumter by Confederate forces to start the Civil War, the destruction of the USS Maine which triggered the War with Spain, the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915 and, of course, the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 were all events responsible for mobilizing American public opinion. Similar critical events were instrumental to war mobilization during the Vietnam conict. The Gulf of Tonkin in August 1964, the bombing of U.S. military barracks at Pleiku in the Central Highlands in February 1965 and Johnsons escalation speech in July 1965, all served as forms of political theater for the mobilization of national will.

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In response to war mobilization by the executive branch, the mass media and the broadly based and diffuse antiwar movement expressed antiwar propaganda that mobilized antiwar sentiment, creating a counterpolitical theater of disbelief, moral outrage, and at the extreme, active resistance to the state. This chapter will illustrate the opposition between military pro-war propaganda and its antithesis, the antiwar propaganda of major elements within American civilian society. MILITARY AND CIVILIAN PROPAGANDA: USES AND MISUSES Managing public opinion is perhaps the most essential job that the White House staff performs for any president. Without public support, no major policy initiative will survive for long. Public support is translated into congressional support. With popular and legislative underpinning, a president could launch a major war or major domestic legislation. If the support was lost, then the White House needed to work desperately to see if it could restore that legitimacy before action would be taken by Congress to end material, legal and moral commitments. After the ground war began in earnest in summer 1965, the White House dealt with three serious moments of political crises regarding Indochina. In 1968, the Tet Offensive fatally weakened a long-term commitment to protect Vietnam with U.S. forces. In 1970, the Cambodian invasion added another layer of antiwar attachment to a now cynical public. Finally, the fall of Indochina in spring 1975 focused the White House on the likely loss of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, and the impotence of the Ford administration to reverse a decade-long destruction of American political will to resist a communist victory in the region. Once it began its decline, public support for the Vietnam War never returned. PROPAGANDA AS A TOOL OF WAR By necessity, propaganda has always been a tool of war. The purpose of war propaganda has always served several mutually reinforcing aims. The dissemination of real and/or false information designed to inuence public opinion has worked to rally the home front, demoralize the enemy and inuence allies and neutral parties to the conict. Years before the start of the American Revolutionary War, the so-called Boston Massacre was publicized by Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty as a brutal example of British oppression. Later, the Boston Tea Party was designed to inuence both American and British public opinion regarding the unjustness of British rule in the American colonies. The examples of war related propaganda in American history alone

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are too numerous to cite. The Declaration of Independence itself was a brilliant example of propaganda aimed at American, British and European public opinion. In every war of the nineteenth century, including the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Civil War and the Indian Wars, government and private propaganda aimed to shape public opinion, to mobilize it, to gather material as well as moral support and to establish permanent legitimacy for the nations war aims. In the twentieth century, propaganda in the form of pamphlets, speeches, books, radio and television broadcasts have been essential elements in warfare. Propaganda was institutionalized during the First World War with the formation of the Committee on Public Information (CPI), a government organization dedicated to the dissemination of U.S. war propaganda around the world. During the Second World War, the Ofce of War Information (OWI) was established in 1942 to replicate what the CPI did so brilliantly during the First World War. In fact, all the major combatants of the world wars had extensive propaganda operations aimed at inuencing the perceptions of the war everywhere in the world. The Cold War was no different from its predecessors. For decades, The Voice of America and Radio Free Europe were major propaganda, that is, psychological warfare operations controlled by the Central Intelligence Agency. The war for world opinion was quintessential to the bipolar conict. In addition to broadcasts aimed at captive populations in Eastern Europe and elsewhere, U.S. propaganda was very concerned with the actions of its own citizens, and how the country was portrayed by foreign media. In justifying his use of federal troops to integrate a high school in Arkansas, Eisenhower told a national audience that racial segregation in the South had a serious impact on the image and prestige of the United States in its global confrontation with communism. It should be of no surprise that U.S. government propaganda, produced by civilians and military organizations, was an essential part of the Vietnam War. In chapter 6, the Hoi Chieu program was discussed in some detail. South Vietnams amnesty program involved a massive propaganda campaign done jointly by the chief psychological operations branch of the U.S. military, JUSPAO, and its counterpart in the South Vietnamese government. However, as noted, propaganda as a form of psychological warfare was a global enterprise during the Cold War, as it was during both the First and Second World Wars. MILITARY PROPAGANDA: BODY COUNTS AND PACIFICATION REPORTS Military propaganda was aimed at multiple targets. For the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese, a full program of psychological warfare was

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aimed at encouraging defections and demoralizing the enemy. For the American public, however, the military had to project a continuous image of progress, irrespective of the results on the battleeld. During the Kennedy administration, MACV commanders reported steady progress with the implementation of the Strategic Hamlet program. Taking the reports of the ARVN at face value, MACV representatives reported to the press and to Washington that the war was being won. Only after the fall of Diem in November 1963, and after a major reassessment of the advisory effort in Vietnam was begun, was the truth revealed. In fact, the Strategic Hamlet program was an abject failure. South Vietnam, by the end of 1963, was in perilous shape.1 Military and executive branch propaganda was a major priority for the war effort. During the Johnson administration, government reports and documentaries portrayed a valiant ally in South Vietnam, ghting off aggression from the North. Viet Cong terrorism was highlighted, while civilian deaths caused by U.S. and South Vietnamese military actions were always considered collateral damage. Progress was always presented as an ongoing feature of the war, even if there was virtually none. U.S. motives were always presented as altruistic. According to ofcial government statements, the United States was in Vietnam to preserve the freedom of the South Vietnamese people. While the truth was far more complicated, the essential message throughout the war, until its end in spring 1975, was the humanitarian focus of U.S. involvement in the war. The war was always an exercise in preventing the death of the free world. PRO-WAR PROPAGANDA For a signicant period of U.S. involvement, the combined propaganda efforts of the military and the executive branch were successful in engineering a positive domestic public perception of the war. Without the success of pro-war propaganda, the American ground war would never have been possible. Essentially, the extensive propaganda campaign, which was employed by thousands of U.S. government representatives throughout the world, involved the projection of particular arguments. These arguments or themes were portrayed using statistics, analogies, visual images as well as detailed rational arguments. War Is Moral Test for the Free World A recurring theme in both military and civilian propaganda had to do with the Vietnam War as a moral test for the nation. Kennedy said as much in his 1961 inaugural address. Although he did not mention Vietnam

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specically, his message was poignant and clear: the U.S. would ght communist movements everywhere in the world. The same theme was expressed by Lyndon Johnson in countless speeches. Among his most famous Vietnam speeches were his address after the Gulf of Tonkin incidents in August 1964, his Johns Hopkins speech of April 1965 and his press conference speech of July 1965. In all of these speeches, critical to the process of war mobilization, Johnson portrayed South Vietnam as a victim of aggression. The country was a poor outpost of the free world deserving of its protection. Without a response by the United States to defend the Republic of Vietnam from aggression, the entire containment system against international communism was in danger of collapse. Further, the loss of Vietnam and Indochina would break the promises of American presidents beginning with Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1954.2 Communist Atrocities An idea that reverberated in military and executive branch briengs on the war related to the methods of the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese. MACV reported thousands of assassinations of village-level government ofcials by Viet Cong troops. Village chiefs, school teachers and anyone else associated with the government were targeted by the NLF from the beginning of the resistance movement in the late 1950s to the end of the war in the 1970s. To strike fear into the hearts of rural villagers, the VC would often make an example of particular local ofcials. There were many documented cases where the VC executed their victims in front of hamlet populations. On Augusta 23, 1961 two school teachers, Nguyen Khoa Ngon and Miss Nugyen Thi Thiet, were preparing their teaching lessons at Miss Thiets home when two guerrillas entered the house and forced them at gunpoint to go to their school, Rau Ram School, Phong Dinh province. There they found two men, named Oanh and Van, local farmers, to whom the guerrillas read an execution order. Oanh was then shot and Van decapitated. Althought the teachers were not certain why they had been forced to witness the executions, they assumed that it was an effort to intimidate them and to discourage them from taking a pro-GVN attitude with their students.3 Other atrocities included mass executions, as occurred in the city of Hue during the Tet Offensive. Several thousand progovernment individuals were rounded up by the VC and killed in the sports stadium. Their

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bodies were found after Hue was retaken by ARVN and U.S. troops. The Viet Cong and PAVN forces were also guilty of shelling South Vietnamese villages and cities, resulting in thousands of civilian casualties. Finally, through the course of the war, the VC committed countless acts of random terrorism in government controlled areas, including bombing public places. Communist assassinations were designed to systematically destroy the governments local infrastructures. To a degree, the assassinations were effective, bringing thousands of hamlets under communist control. In the long run, however, extensive countermeasures by the South Vietnamese, the United States and other allied forces mitigated the effects of these tactics.4 South Vietnamese Desire for Freedom In speeches and testimony to Congress, as well as information disseminated to the public, U.S. government ofcials, civilian and military, emphasized the desire of the South Vietnamese to be free from the communist forces attempting to overrun their country. From the 1950s onward, extensive work had been done to promote democracy in South Vietnam with mixed results. Nonetheless, by the time U.S. ground forces had departed the country in 1973, a working multiparty legislature was involved in passing laws that governed the country. A lively intellectual community existed in Saigon prior to its occupation by North Vietnamese troops in 1975. The post-1975 Vietnamese diaspora attests to the vibrancy and exile of that community after the communist victory. To maintain critical political support for the war, the executive branch emphasized the genuine liberal beliefs of South Vietnamese elites. If South Vietnam was not a model democracy, its tolerance of popular dissent, even in the face of an active civil war and a hostile army within kilometers of its major cities, demonstrated the authentic pluralism that existed in the South. That pluralism, it was surmised, would be sacriced by communist victory. Loss of National Honor and Prestige The theme of national honor and prestige was evident in speeches and editorials in 1965. In the Pentagon Papers, John McNaughton, Robert McNamaras senior aide, wrote a policy planning document which attributed 70 percent of U.S. interest in defending South Vietnam to the protection of American honor. The actual freedom of the South Vietnamese counted only 10 percent according to McNaughtons ad hoc analysis. The nal 20 percent of U.S. interest concerned the need to

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prevent communist expansion in Southeast Asia. U.S. honor, however, was the preponderant reason. Why was honor so important? Implied in the concept of honor was the integrity of the entire global containment system. If the United States withdrew from South Vietnam under dishonorable conditions, the international prestige of the country would have been at grave risk. To Americans in the 1960s, a nation raised in a military culture dened by the memory of two world wars, the loss of national honor meant disaster.5 During the presidency of Richard Nixon, the same concept of honor was at the heart of American rhetoric. Nixon and Kissinger desired, above all else, peace with honor. For Nixon, as much as his predecessors, the desire for honor was to support the countrys defense posture vis--vis international communism. Even though his presidency was marked by the end of the Cold War with China, and dtente with the Soviet Union, the concept of saving face as a genuine national security concern remained at the heart of Nixon and Kissingers belief system. Treatment of U.S. POWs An issue of deep importance to the American public was the treatment of U.S. prisoners of war (POWs) by the North Vietnamese. Information gleaned from visits by neutral representatives, celebrities and journalists, as well as the pictures of captured U.S. soldiers on North Vietnamese television, suggested serious maltreatment. Indeed, the extreme conditions that the communists exposed U.S. POWs to was a galvanizing issue in the United States, especially for conservative communities who more often than not were the ones with POWs being held in Hanoi. The harshness of communist military prisons, and the use of POWs for propaganda purposes, served to validate American involvement in the war. The spectacle of starved and beaten American prisoners hardened public and ofcial attitudes toward the North Vietnamese, and mitigated some of the legitimacy of the antiwar movements critiques of alleged U.S. war crimes in the conict.6 The Domino Theory Is Valid In addition to the moral arguments in support of the war, U.S. war propaganda defended the conict as a necessary strategic intervention. The domino theory, articulated by Dwight D. Eisenhower and defense analysts in the 1950s, continued to maintain its currency, at least with senior members of the executive branch, until the end of the war. In the mid1960s, the concept of falling dominoes was unassailable to both civilian

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and military leaders and government analysts. The estimated consequences for defeat in Vietnam in 1965 were so severe that the JCS refused to contemplate any possible action other than intervention. For Lyndon Johnson and his senior advisors, the military view was correct, albeit extreme. Johnson could not contemplate withdrawal, nor did anyone suggest such a strategy in summer 1965. As the war continued, the domino theory became less and less appetizing as a rhetorical device. The antiwar movement challenged the theory, suggesting that it was a simplistic and unproven concept of how social revolution spreads. As the contradictions of the war grew in the publics mind, the domino metaphor was used far less as ideological underpinning of the intervention. Nonetheless, the idea persisted. If the loss of Vietnam would not result immediately in the fall of Thailand and Malaysia, the effect of defeat would reverberate, domino-like in the image of the United States as an ally.7 We Are Winning The nal argument for supporting the war was that it was being won. This was a very popular argument with the professional military. The military command liked to believe that its policies were effective. Prior to the fall of the Diem regime in 1963, the military believed that it was winning the pacication war against the communists. Nothing was further from the truth. Nonetheless, the belief in winning served an important purpose when the war had very thin support in the Congress. At the height of the ground war in the late 1960s, U.S. military ofcers routinely reported that the war was being won. By the late 1960s, MACV was reporting combined annual losses by the communists well in excess of a hundred thousand dead. Despite the continued resistance of enemy forces, the VC and the PAVN were taking huge numbers of casualties, leaving most of their units understrength. In the countryside, the popular and regional forces of the RVNAF were pursuing vigorous pacication programs that were bringing most of the rural population under government control. By 1970, MACV and the Department of Defense were reporting that over 90 percent of the rural population in South Vietnam was living in secure government-controlled areas. As far as MACV and the White House were concerned, the war was always being won. The communists were deadly assassins who preyed on the South Vietnamese civilian population, trying to force them into joining their movement or acquiescing in the control of the country and the overthrow of the Republic of Vietnam. South Vietnam was a struggling but vibrant democracy according to U.S. government information. The

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communists wanted to overthrow this democracy, install a totalitarian regime and spread its movement to neighboring countries throughout Asia. The only moral and strategic choice that made sense, according to this argument, was to engage the communists, defeat them, save South Vietnam, Indochina and possibly the rest of Southeast Asia. ANTIWAR PROPAGANDA For each and every pro-war argument ventured by military and civilian government ofcials, a countervailing and often better argument was used by the ever burgeoning antiwar movement. The war was challenged on moral, legal and strategic grounds. It was deemed by various groups and individual critics as genocide, ecocide, a grotesque failure, an irrational boondoggle, a product of economic imperialism, American racism and technocratic militarism. Capitalism, national hubris, the legacies of the American frontier, the preternatural racism of a Western superpower and simply the failed leadership of successive presidents, all these arguments were given in retort to the war justications provided by the executive branch. The more moderate arguments against the war emerged as supporters turned against the intervention. Those ideas related to the ineffective and unwinnable nature of the conict. In the end, there were too many voices against the war. Radical dissenters caused more harm from engaging in violent means of protest than in the logic of their arguments. Liberal and moderate dissent was more damaging to the war effort because that opposition carried with it deep sources of support in public opinion. The antiwar arguments, like the pro-war ones, settled around several dominant themes. The War Is Immoral Perhaps the most powerful concept behind the antiwar movement was the belief in the wars immorality. Just as the morality of the war was perhaps the strongest component of the governments propaganda campaign, its antithesis served the same purpose for the diverse groups who rallied against the war between the mid-1960s and the early 1970s. The wars immorality was based on a range of concepts, including militarism, imperialism, and racism, as well as the more extreme charges of ecocide and mass killings. The issue of immorality and the Vietnam War cut very deep. It mobilized extraordinary emotional responses among individuals and groups who acted upon their beliefs and feelings, often in violent confrontations with the government.8

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A common theme among antiwar critics attributed the war to the atavistic designs of American society. One line of argument that began with C. Wright Mills in the 1950s suggested American power was under the control of a military-industrial complex. William J. Fulbright, a leading critic of the war as head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, believed in Mills institutional argument. A culture of militarism was fed by powerful industrial interests. Vietnam was appealing to a culture militarized by decades of war and military preparation. In countless Vietnam War teach-ins at U.S. colleges and universities, the war was portrayed as a Pentagoninspired attack on a Third World nation. The sheer power of the U.S. armed forces, with its heavy bombers, antipersonnel cluster bombs, napalm, artillery guns and huge eets of combat helicopters, was capable of destruction unparalleled in the history of warfare. With so much military force, including thermonuclear weapons, the propensity to solve political problems through the application of force seemed to many to be a fated response. The destruction caused by U.S. military actions were far out of proportion to the enemy being confronted, namely, Southeast Asian peasants wearing black pajamas and armed with ries. The strategic arguments for ghting the war were grotesque and ludicrous, from the point of view of antiwar intellectuals and politicians. To many critics, including American clergy, artists, writers and liberal activists, Vietnam was a harbinger of a darker horizon for American society. For many ardent protesters in the 1960s, the war was a possible prelude to a nuclear conict against China and the Soviet Union. The peace movement of the 1950s, whose objective was to end the nuclear arms race, became the platform for the Vietnam antiwar movement that sprung to life on American campuses in 1964 and 1965. The War as an Act of Imperialism A theme closely related to militarism was the idea that Vietnam was yet another example of American imperialism. Noam Chomsky, the famous MIT linguist, became one of the foremost antiwar intellectuals in the mid-1960s. For Chomsky and others, including Marcus Raskin, Gabriel Kolko and Howard Zinn, the war was not only about the militarization of American society, but it also represented the cultural and economic imperialism of an advanced Western society. The war was not, as apologists argued, a defense of freedom. On the contrary, according to the view of the American New Left, Vietnam was a calculated attempt to protect American capitalism from the forces of revolution in the Third

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World and to protect the imperial interests of American corporations and their owners, the wealthy elites who inhabited Wall Street and all the other secluded and secular refuges of power and money.9 American imperialism, according to this view, needed to hold Vietnam because it, and the rest of Indochina, was of extraordinary importance to retaining Western control over the Third World. Without the resources and markets provided by the vast regions of decolonized Asia and Africa, the engines of wealth that supported the power of American elite would be endangered. The War as Racism Yet another theme, closely related to militarism and imperialism, which found resonance in the antiwar movement, accused the United States of racism. From this perspective, Vietnam was an extension of the Indian Wars of the nineteenth century. The Viet Cong were unwilling to submit to the superior forces of a Western superpower. It appeared that a nonwhite people were challenging the United States for control of their own land, just as some generations earlier, a younger American nation conquered nonwhite peoples and took their lands for themselves. While never articulated by establishment elites, the spectacle of tall, muscled, clean cut white soldiers hunting through swamps and woodlands for a native enemy protecting his ancestral home seemed to beg the question of racism. Among African American antiwar activists, Vietnam seemed like an obvious example of white power and white racism projected into a distant land. It was clearly a white mans war for many black antiwar critics. If it was a war for the race, then, clearly, to political liberals and nonwhite citizens, the war was patently immoral. In 1966, John Lewis, the chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), summarized a prevalent African American antiwar position: We believe the United States government has been deceptive in its claims of concern for the freedom of the Vietnamese people, just as the government has been deceptive in claiming concern for the freedom of the colored people in such other countries as the Dominican Republic, the Congo, South Africa, Rhodesia and in the United States itself.10 The War as Genocide Perhaps the most damning antiwar argument was that the Vietnam War was so brutal and inhuman that its conduct approached genocide. The Mai Lai massacre of 1968 and the ensuing military trials brought

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this idea to the public. Antiwar activists accused both the Johnson and Nixon administration of covering up war related atrocities. If there was one Mai Lai, so the argument went, then there must have been many others that were hidden. The war resulted in many hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths, most of which were attributed to collateral damage. The antiwar argument was that the war was fought with such brutality, with weapons of such destructiveness, that the inevitable result was tantamount to genocide. The 1971 Vietnam War crime hearings in Congress, held by Representative Ronald Dellums, an African American congressman from Detroit, portrayed an American Army that was out of control. The Army, according to testimony from Vietnam veterans, was engaged in war crimes on a daily basis. The same charges of war crimes were thrown at the Nixon administration for its secret bombings of Cambodia and its implementation of the Phoenix program, which antiwar critics described as an assassination program. Finally, the famous Christmas bombing of December 1972 was attacked for its inhumanity by the government of Sweden, among others. The Swedish prime minister, Olaf Palme, compared the massive U.S. bombing raid on Hanoi to the punitive assaults by the Nazi Germany that massacred civilians during the Second World War.11 The War as Ecocide Yet another dark view of the war was expressed by the new environmental movement of the 1960s. One of the methods used against the Viet Cong was to defoliate the wetlands of the Mekong Delta as well as the forests of the Central Highlands. A strategy of deliberate herbicidal warfare was carried out in part to protect U.S. forces from enemy forces that used the dense grass and tropical forests as protective cover. Yet, the destruction caused by Agent Orange, other herbicides and the massive shelling and bombing from U.S. planes and artillery had a devastating effect on the ecology of Indochina. For the burgeoning antiwar movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s, the ecocide in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos added to the inhumane effects of the war on the native population. The U.S. military had virtually no interest in protecting wildlife or vegetation in the combat areas. Of primary importance to the military was protection of its troops and the destruction of enemy units. Once again, this strict paradigm of conventional warfare brought charges of war crimes against the United States. The destruction of rural Vietnam by the war involved not only the brutal burning of villages with napalm

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munitions, the strang of civilian populations and the removal of survivors to secure areas, but it also involved the physical death of the entire environs of the countryside. Such a picture of war fought without mercy or regard for native people, for abstract strategic reasons that existed only in the minds of technocratic war planners on the other side of the earth, suggested to antiwar critics that the militarys policies of ecocide were entirely consonant with the other immoral aspects of its war strategy.12 The War Is Illegal under International Law The nal moral argument made by the antiwar movement was the entire conict was illegal under international law. Richard Falk, a professor of international law at Yale, wrote a multivolume legal critique of the war during the Johnson administration. His detailed analysis argued that U.S. intervention in Vietnam was illegal. The war did not constitute an international conict under the U.N. Charter. Under the 1954 Geneva Accords on Indochina, Vietnam was not two countries with sovereign governments, but one nation with two zones of temporary governance. Since South Vietnam was not really a country, and was not invaded, at least at the time of Falks treatise, the United States had no legal right to intervene in Vietnam with military force.13 The legal argument against U.S. intervention paralleled the other arguments against the war proffered by many thousands of activists in public and private life. An immoral war was almost by denition illegal and vice versa. The legal argument against the war refused to recognize the sovereignty and right of self-defense for the Republic of Vietnam. Its advocates argued that the National Liberation Front for South Vietnam had as much right to represent the population of South Vietnam as the government recognized by the United States. Finally, the antiwar argument suggested that NLF was independent of North Vietnam, and that North Vietnams aid to the NLF did not constitute an invasion of the South. In fact, the response of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam was directly related to the illegal intervention by the United States. The War Is Unwinnable Along with the wars immorality, antiwar propaganda was energized by a set of beliefs that suggested the war could never be won. If the war was inherently unwinnable, an idea that was current not only among antiwar protesters but among sober realists inside the government as well, then continuing to prosecute it appeared illogical, cruel and futile.

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The Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Cannot Be Defeated A common theme expressed by congressional doves as well as the larger public antiwar movement was that the guerrilla movement in South Vietnam could not be defeated. For years, from the beginning of the Kennedy administration through the end of the Johnson presidency, it seemed that was true. No matter how many troops were deployed, or how much money and ammunition was spent, or how high the body counts were, the VC appeared endlessly resilient. As far as the North Vietnamese were concerned, news reports suggested that their civilian population was able to withstand the bombing campaigns designed to demoralize them and reduce the Norths militaryindustrial infrastructure. Antiwar critics in the Congress pointed to what they considered the failures of pacication and the indomitable nature of both the VC and the PAVN. Even with enormous casualties, the enemy had enough manpower to replace its losses while extracting a deadly toll from both the South Vietnamese and the United States. Winning the War Would Be Too Costly A very convincing argument for the antiwar public and Congress was the cost of prosecuting the Vietnam War to its conclusion. By 1968, with 500,000 troops on the ground, General Westmoreland requested yet another 200,000 troops to bring maximum pressure on the enemy. At the height of the war, American fatalities were over 300 men a week, in addition to 1,000 wounded. In economic terms, the cost of the war far exceeded the scal cost of Lyndon Johnsons Great Society. With no end in sight, antiwar critics believed simply that winning the war was far too costly to pursue.14 The Johnson, and later Nixon, administration had declared the independence of South Vietnam as their primary war aim. However, guaranteeing that result required the total defeat of the communist in Vietnam. This was a project that seemed politically impossible. Even the Johnson administration, when it launched the major ground war in summer 1965 had great trepidations and doubts that achieving victory in Vietnam was possible. Finally, when Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger assumed the White House, it was quite apparent that victory as dened was beyond reasonable guaranty by the United States. Winning the War Would Be Too Dangerous As noted throughout this monograph, the vast majority of the senior commanders in the U.S. military believed the war was winnable if they

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were allowed to ght it on their own terms. This was a particular point of contention for the antiwar movement. From the early 1960s onward, prominent U.S. senators warned Lyndon Johnson that an aggressive campaign to defeat North Vietnam risked war with China and possibly the Soviet Union. While the JCS had no problem with the idea of ghting Chinese divisions entering North Vietnam to counteract an American invasion of the North, senators Mike Manseld, William J. Fulbright, Sherman Cooper, Frank Church, George McGovern, Richard Russell and many others were mortied. Congressional opposition to the standard hawk position on winning the war through massive bombing and/or invasion of the North, to force the communists to concede on U.S. terms, was argued in public and private as a prescription for World War III. The more radical antiwar movement among academics, students and liberal members of civil society thought the war was implicitly dangerous. They often did not distinguish between the moral argument against the national security state or the warfare state and the practical concerns of moderate and conservative antiwar critics who viewed the war as a strategic debacle that was truly dangerous.15 The War Threatens to Destroy the Fabric of American Society A nal concern for the millions against the war had to do with its effect on American society. The wars effects seemed to be deeply corrosive to civil society. The psychological effects on millions of American GIs exposed to a deadly and interminable conict in the Third World were deemed a very high price for an unwinnable, immoral and strategically irrelevant war. The GIs brought home both physical and psychological wounds that impacted millions of American families. They returned not only with posttraumatic stress, but also with severe chemical dependencies including addiction to heroin and other powerful and debilitating illicit drugs.16 The war inspired radical political movements centered on major universities in the Northeast, Midwest and West Coast. These movements, including the Weathermen, a domestic terrorist organization, represented a serious threat to public safety in a society that was already under serious strain from race riots and surging crime rates in major urban areas. For many antiwar critics in the center of the political spectrum, the very fabric of civil society, its schools, religious and political institutions, popular culture and urban centers were inicted by the poisonous effects of the Vietnam War.17 To continue the war meant the perpetuation of everything the war had

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brought to America. Respect for government had declined astonishingly in a very short span of time. Social movements challenged public order, as not only blacks but Chicanos, Native Americans and feminists were clamoring for political and social reforms. The wars apparent immorality for those opposed to it divided the nation into separate camps. Moderate and conservative supporters of the war had become enraged by everything the left wing antiwar movement stood for. In sum, the war appeared to be shaking the fundamental terms of American civil society, inviting ever more divisive and destructive conict in a country that prided itself on just the opposite. GULF OF TONKIN From the perspective of political propaganda, the Gulf of Tonkin was textbook example of effectiveness. In response to two alleged and relatively minor attacks against U.S. naval forces in the Gulf of Tonkin, some 100 miles off the coast of North Vietnam, both houses of the U.S. Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin resolution of August 1964. Both the national and world presses condemned the aggression against the United States. The informed public, to the degree that it knew of the incidents, supported Lyndon Johnsons resolve to oppose the communists in Indochina. Only two U.S. senators, Wayne Morse of Oregon and Ernst Gruening of Alaska, voted against the resolution. This grossly underestimated the extent of opposition to major military action in Southeast Asia. Despite voting for the resolution, a number of senators and congressmen were opposed to a major ground war in Vietnam. Nonetheless, the propaganda of the resolution, very clear and unadorned, established a political and legal claim of authority for Johnson administration to escalate the war in Indochina. In fact, the Johnson White House had been waiting for just such a crisis that would allow the administration to publicly display its anger and fashion legislation that would expand the political capital the president needed if he wanted to go to war in the region.18 ENTERING THE GROUND WAR: JULY 1965 The propaganda efforts behind the decision to enter the ground war in July 1965 were masterful. Extensive discussions at Camp David and at the White House provided Johnson with overwhelming, albeit tentative, approval for his plan to begin the massive escalation of the U.S. commitment to South Vietnam. The legal basis of the war appeared to be sound. The presidents course of action in summer 1965 was premised

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on international and domestic law. Domestic law and legislation, established by the Gulf of Tonkin resolution of August 1964, and the constitutional authority of the president under Article 2 of the U.S. constitution allowed Johnson to go to war to defend the United States from aggression. Internationally, the 1954 SEATO Treaty pledged the United States to respond to South Vietnams request for military assistance. Finally, Article 51 of the UN Charter gave the United States the inherent right to come to the aid of any member of the international community under attack.19 The legal basis for intervention was reinforced by the moral interests of the United States in keeping its word to an ally, and opposing an enemy that was an agent of international communism, a totalitarian movement dedicated to the destruction of the free world. Finally, the domino theory had impressive support among not only U.S. national security intellectuals, but to a large majority of the American people as well, who believed that the loss of South Vietnam could lead very quickly to the loss of most of Southeast Asia. Such a possibility was an intolerable strategic threat to the United States. After Johnson gave his press conference speech on July 28, 1965, public support for the war in the United States was very strong. Two-thirds of the public in opinion polls voiced support for his plan of action in South Vietnam. Major U.S. newspapers, including the Washington Post and even the skeptical and dovish New York Times, believed Johnsons actions were prudent given the risks to U.S. national security and the need to nd an honorable solution to a treacherous crisis.20 TET 1968: MILITARY VICTORY, POLITICAL DEFEAT As discussed in earlier chapters, the 1968 Tet Offensive was a huge military defeat for the PLA and the PAVN. Casualties were so severe for the VC that never again would their main force units pose a serious threat to the ARVN. This analysis, reported by the Pentagon to the mainstream mass media of television, radio, newspaper and magazines, was held in disbelief by important segments of the public. Despite the best efforts of the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon, important editorial opinions suggested the war was now clearly unwinnable. Congressmen and senators frustrated with the huge casualty tolls and stunned by the ability of the enemy to strike everywhere in South Vietnam rejected the war propaganda from the executive branch. Public opinion polls showed that the events of spring 1968 were a watershed in American politics. Johnson saw his popularity in public opinion disappear with the Tet offensive. Even as the communist armies were decimated by their massive attacks on U.S. and ARVN positions, a majority of

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the public became convinced that the war was a mistake and was probably unwinnable. In February 1968, at the height of Tet, Johnson lost the New Hampshire democratic primary to Eugene McCarthy, the prominent and vitriolic antiwar senator from Minnesota. Despite the effective destruction of the Viet Cong as a ghting force in South Vietnam, Johnsons stunning primary defeat, combined with other critical events, prompted his withdrawal from the 1968 presidential race and the end of his presidency.21 After years of strong support for the war, the last year of the Johnson presidency saw the cumulative effects of the war taking a decisive toll on the ability of the political establishment in Washington to support the U.S. military in its mission to defend South Vietnam and defeat the prescribed enemies. Public pronouncements of military success were now uniformly held with deep skepticism. By 1968, government assessments for progress in Vietnam, whether in attacking the main-force units of the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese, or improved numbers pacifying the hamlets and villages, all were held with little credibility by major national newspapers, periodicals and TV news journalists. Public information campaigns to support the U.S. armed forces in the eld had very marginal results when luminaries like Walter Cronkite, the dean of U.S. television news, and the editorial pages of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, expressed a profound fatalism about the war.22 CAMBODIA 1970: MILITARY VICTORY, POLITICAL DEFEAT Just like the extensive military operations of spring 1968, the invasion of Cambodia by South Vietnamese and U.S. forces in April 1970 was considered a brilliant military success. Like the Tet offensive of 1968, the Cambodian cross-border operation dealt a critical blow to the ability of the communists to wage war in the South. The loss of the Eastern Cambodian sanctuaries did not cut off the Norths forces in the South, but it made the resupply effort, using both the Ho Chi Minh trail system and the Sihanouk trail from the Cambodian coast, far less effective lines of communication. The ongoing raids against supply routes, combined with the highly effective Phoenix program in the South, had a serious effect on the ability of the communists to sustain an effective military campaign in the South. By 1971, the military was condent that virtually all of South Vietnams civilian population, with the exception of perhaps no more than a hundred isolated hamlets comprising less than 0.2 percent of the countrys population, was under some form of government control. The war in practical terms was being won through Vietnamization, village level pacication and an expanded interdiction strategy against the North.23

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This optimistic view of the war, which was considered accurate by military and CIA intelligence, obviated the most essential risk that the Nixon administration faced. Despite victory in the eld, the length and cost of the war in American lives and money exceeded the reasonable expectations not only of the political left, which had actively opposed the war from the mid-1960s, but also of the moderate and even conservative elements of both political parties in the United States. While a solid base of support remained behind continued military involvement in Indochina, years of violent antiwar protests had weakened the resolve of the political center. The invasion of Cambodia in spring 1970 resulted in massive student antiwar protests throughout the United States. The most damaging event was the Kent State Massacre in April, just after the invasion was announced to the public. The deaths of four students, killed by National Guard soldiers rie shots on the campus of Kent State University, sent shock waves around the country. The famous picture of the female college student crying over the attack on a Midwestern college campus, otherwise the epitome of normalcy and mainstream Middle American culture, covered the pages of news magazines and the nations most inuential newspapers. Once again, a military success, which Nixon told the public of in detail, was overshadowed by the domestic tragedy of violent antiwar protests.24 In his memoirs, Henry Kissinger vigorously defended both the invasion of Cambodia and the bombing operations that were conducted from 1969 onward. The projection of American power into Laos and Cambodia were recommended actions by most U.S. eld commanders since the rst years of the Kennedy administration. The Nixon administrations pro-military ideology affected operations that supported the militarys views on how to wage the war. However, ironically, during the Nixon administration, the military had lost the political leverage it had in the early and mid-1960s, when it could protect its interest in defending Indochina, in the face of withdrawal sentiments by neo-Wilsonian diplomats in the State Department. By 1970, Nixon and Kissinger dominated Vietnam policy in its entirety. The JCS and MACV had no countervailing political capital against a conservative Republican administration that had determined that military withdrawal was not just desirable, but mandatory.25 THE FALL, 1975: STRATEGIC AND POLITICAL DEFEAT The military aspects of the fall of Saigon have been discussed in earlier chapters. In political terms, the military collapse of South Vietnam

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was preordained. The Paris Peace Accords of 1973 withdrew all U.S. military personnel from South Vietnam, while it allowed many hundreds of thousands of North Vietnamese and NLF troops to remain in place. By August 1973, the Nixon administration, under very heavy political pressure, signed legislation that prohibited the use of funds for U.S. military operations in the Indochina region, effectively making any such action illegal without the expressed consent of Congress. None of the funds herein appropriated under this act may be expended to support directly or indirectly combat activities in or over Cambodia, Laos, North Vietnam, and South Vietnam by United States forces, and after August 15, 1973, no other funds heretofore appropriated under any other act may be expended for such purpose.26 The antiwar movement had fought long and hard to end U.S. involvement in Indochina, and in Spring 1975, the broad consensus within American society supported the central tenet of war critics. The strategic consequences of the loss of Indochina were described as minimal by no less an authority than Henry Kissinger himself. Since the fall of Saigon occurred some two years after the last U.S. troops were withdrawn, and in light of a signicant thawing in Sino-U.S. relations during the rst half of the 1970s, the dramatic consequences predicted by the domino theory were discounted.

8
Continuity
THE LEGACIES OF THE CONFLICT After a decade of combat involving several million soldiers and some 200 million American civilians as observers, protesters and supporters what were the consequences of the Vietnam War? Indeed, the longest war in American history had wide-ranging, long-term effects on American society and institutions. Cultural and social historians of post-1945 America suggest the Vietnam War created a new culture and society in the United States. The wars effects were transformative, helping to establish a new social and political order, where the concept of the individuals relationship to the state and the militarys role with respect to the state were both redened. In foreign relations, the public memory of the Vietnam War resonated in the debate over the use of force. Vietnam was present as a part of collective memory during the 1980s, when the Reagan administration engaged itself in Central America. During the same period, the Russian war in Afghanistan appeared to mirror the U.S. experience in Vietnam, where a powerful modern army fought an indigenous resistance aided by foreign allies. In political debates, the issue of intervention in the Third World became a central focus of U.S. foreign policy. For the remainder of the Cold War and then afterward, the postCold War and postSeptember 11 eras, the Vietnam War remained a prepossessing image warning policy makers and political actors on both the right and left of the ideological

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spectrum that ghting a war in a distant part of the Third World promised entanglement and defeat. For domestic society, the wars memories appeared in the ordinary lives of Americans who lived through the period. The Vietnam War was a generational experience that, like the Second World War and the Great Depression, became a generational memory. For decades after the last American soldier left Vietnam, American popular culture could not forget a war that had lasted more than ten years; a war that was experienced by an entire country and indeed most of the world through the eyes of television. Elites were far more deeply affected psychologically by the war than the general public, who were less conicted by its multitude of strategies and wearing political burdens. If the mass public remembered Vietnam as a trying experience from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s, the elites in government, the armed forces, academic institutions and the mass media experienced the conict as all-consuming and tragic but also foundational. A CLASH OF CULTURES Both military and civilian cultures learned deeply from the conict. However, the schism between military and civilian cultures, and most particularly the opposing views of military elites and left of center civilian elites, widened both during and after the war. In a strong sense, nothing related to the underlying political/ideological tension between military and civilian society was resolved by the Vietnam War. Most military ofcers and analysts had favored U.S. intervention but deplored the lack of basic commitment to the principles of warfare. In the nal analysis, the dominant view of professional ofcers remained that the Vietnam War was lost by civilians. Given the commitment and the necessary means, they believed the conict would have turned out very differently.1 Conversely, most civilian journalists, policy makers, elected ofcials, academics and community leaders opposed the Vietnam War by its ending. Whether they started their opposition early, in the middle or late, civilian opposition expressed in the cutting off of funds and denying the use of U.S. military force, made their opposition felt directly and often in the strongest of terms. For most civilians, the standard military solution to Vietnam and Indochina, the sustained massive application of superior military force on the ground, in the air and on the sea, would have been a recipe for World War III. For academic intellectuals and thoughtful journalists and politicians, the strategic doctrine for ghting the war was either irrational to begin with, or obviated in the end by Nixons opening to China and his dtente with the Soviet Union.

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The moral consequences of the war from the point of civilians were also profound and nearly diametrically opposed to those of military ofcers, pro-military intellectuals and public ofcials. Despite the victory of communism in Indochina, the brutality of the war, its enormous loss of life, its damage to the natural environment and its effects on American society made the war a tragic and cautionary tale for future wars. On the other hand, postwar analyses by military strategists and former commanders continued the same theme that underrode contemporary military critiques, in both public and private dialogues. That theme was and still remains a critique of the civilian political leadership that prosecuted the war. From the point of view of most military professionals in the United States, the Vietnam War was lost precisely because of the political blunders of the Johnson and Nixon administrations. Johnsons strategy failed because he imposed serious operational constraints on the U.S. military. His administration supplied the troops and the resources, air, land and sea assets, but he failed to allow the military leadership, namely, the JCS, CINCPAC and MACV to conduct the wide-ranging military actions in the Indochina theater that would have brought the war to a successful conclusion. Likewise, the Nixon administration, although more pliant to the wishes of the armed forces, decided upon a determined schedule for deescalating the war, without a commitment to winning it. In fact, military critiques suggest that both Nixon and Kissinger had concluded that the war was unwinnable, and that only an organized withdrawal over several years would be able to salvage the international prestige of the United States. While Nixon bombed North Vietnam with the intensity that the JCS recommended, and ordered American troops into Cambodia and Laos in 1970 and 1971, despite the huge domestic political costs associated with those actions, he also maintained a strict policy of withdrawal before the war was won. When the Peace Accords were signed in January 1973, Richard Nixon, despite his impeccable credentials as a president who was willing to authorize the maximum use of force on the battleeld, left South Vietnam in desperate shape. If Nixon had not known, his most senior advisor, Henry Kissinger, knew that the South Vietnamese would not survive with several hundred thousand enemy troops still in the eld; and with extensive supply lines pouring men and supplies through Southern Laos and Eastern Cambodia into the heart of South Vietnam. Nixon left his South Vietnamese allies with a huge military inventory, but not enough nancial support to maintain the arms they were given. When the North Vietnamese had recovered sufciently from their war with the United States, aided by generous assistance from China and the

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Soviet Union, they launched the spring 1975 offensive that brought them victory. In the end, the United States stood by and watched its failed policy result in the complete loss of Indochina to a communist regime. Three weeks before the fall of Saigon in April 1975, President Gerald Ford made one nal appeal to the U.S. Congress to aid South Vietnam: A vast human tragedy has befallen our friends in Vietnam and Cambodia. Tonight I shall not talk only of the obligations arising from legal documents. Who can forget the enormous sacrices of blood, dedication, and treasure that we made in Vietnam? Under ve Presidents and 12 Congresses, the United States was engaged in Indochina. Millions of Americans served, thousands died, and many more were wounded, imprisoned, or lost. Over $150 billion have been appropriated for that war by the Congress of the United States. And after years of effort, we negotiated, under the most difcult circumstances, a settlement which made it possible for us to remove our military forces and bring home with pride our American prisoners. This settlement, if its terms had been adhered to, would have permitted our South Vietnamese ally, with our material and moral support, to maintain its security and rebuild after two decades of war.2 From the perspective of military professionals, after twenty-ve years of support initiated by ve presidential administrations, the United States betrayed a loyal ally. In the end, an inviolate principle of grand strategy, supporting an ally against a common enemy was indeed violated by the civilian congressional leadership during the Ford administration. In the wars immediate aftermath, Kissinger, as secretary of state during the Ford administration, viewed the impact of that betrayal as negligible. From the perspective of the conservative wing of the Republican Party and the U.S. armed forces, the loss of face was a permanent scar on the integrity of the country and was morally reprehensible. In the months and years after the communist victories in Indochina, over 1 million Indochinese refugees ed Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, creating a diaspora on every continent. The refugees recounted stories of torture, execution and repression that included the genocide of the Khmer Rouge against Cambodians, the desperate ight of Vietnamese and Hmong civilians from their homelands. The so-called killing elds of Cambodia represented the deadliest nightmare of communist victory in Indochina. The Khmer Rouge leaders were not mere peasants who seized power. Pol Pot and most of his colleagues were trained in MarxistLeninist doctrine as university students in late 1940s France. When they

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nally achieved victory over the pro-American Lon Nol regime in 1975, their rst action was to order the emptying of the national capital. More than a million people, regardless of their age or inrmity, were forcibly evacuated from the city. In three years, 1975 to 1978, Pol Pot succeeded in killing between 1 and 2 million Cambodians. His radical ideology sought to purge Cambodia of all Western inuences, including any members outside of the Khmer Rouge elite who were educated in the West.3 Despite the postwar tragedies of Indochina, historical memories of the conict continue to divide military and civilian antiwar critics. Just as the military critics of the war have not changed their minds, neither have the original antiwar critics of the Vietnam era. In hundreds of books, antiwar memoirs, oral histories and scholarly studies, the former students, protesters, journalists and public ofcials of the Vietnam War era have repudiated the civilian leadership who conducted the war, and the military leadership that were its strongest supporters. Civilian leaders who opposed the Vietnam War proudly made that point in their memoirs. They saw the disaster coming, like Clark Clifford and George Ball, high-ranking Johnson administration ofcials; or they both anticipated disaster and fought furiously for years to end the war; such as George McGovern, Wayne Morse, Ernst Gruening, Mike Manseld and William J. Fulbright.4 By the end of the Nixon administration, the antiwar movement had become so immense in scope that it was almost impossible to enumerate. It included individuals from every walk of life and every part of the political spectrum. Now, some thirty years after the end of the war, American civilian society remains largely convinced of the political critique of the Vietnam War. In the popular critique of the Vietnam War, present in early twenty-rst-century America, the war was indeed a foolish and immoral action that wasted lives and money for no purpose. The war, from the dominant historical perspective of the public, and especially the generation that lived through the Vietnam conict, was a profound tragedy for everyone involved. THE INSTITUTIONAL CONSEQUENCES OF THE VIETNAM CONFLICT Americas experience during the Vietnam War, along with the domestic civil rights movement that began in the 1950s, served as a major catalyst for social and institutional change in the United States. It is hard to delineate the parallel streams of social revolution. The antiwar movement reinforced the radical social change movements of the 1960s, which in turn provided the activists to ght the war. Nonetheless, we may conclude

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that the Vietnam War era created a liberated but anomic national culture. The conformity that was part of Cold War America was broken as the public lost faith in the state as a protective institution. The severity of political dissent resulted in a complex sweep of new social movements. The war tested every major institution in American society. All levels of government, universities, public schools, religious institutions as well as the armed forces were challenged by the radical dissent and societal trauma of the conict. Institutional change in the United States was very broad and very deep. Post-Vietnam America no longer conformed to the orthodox political and social norms of the early Cold War. In a sense, with the Vietnam conict, America had lost its innocence. In the decades immediately following the war, university faculties became far more diverse, culturally and politically. The presumption of American exceptionalism that characterized the teaching of U.S. history and politics at both the secondary and postsecondary levels was lost with the antiwar movement of the 1960s. New scholars, who came of age during the antiwar years, challenged the nature of American foreign policy, its domestic institutions and its mass culture. Even with the restoration of conservative thought in the 1980s, the radical imprint of the war maintained the new politically left structure of social and political inquiry at the university level in the United States.5 SOCIAL AND CULTURAL EFFECTS As noted, the broad societal effects of the war were profound. Millions of American families had a direct connection to the war through the service of one or more family members. The nation as a whole experienced the conict as a media event for almost a decade. In living rooms and kitchen tables across the United States, from the mid-1960s through the early 1970s, Vietnam was a living experience, seen nightly through the eyes of television. American journalists, in the print media as well as television and radio, scoured Indochina for information about the war. The public was informed daily of the wrenching policy debates in Washington as well as the deadly effects of the war on Indochina. The critical nature of the medias reportage slowly had its effect on a public that felt moral responsibility for the conduct of the war. The mass media produced hundreds of thousands of news items related to the conict. Tens of millions of politically informed Americans were gripped by the tragedy of the conict, including its testing of morality. Since the strategic argument for entering the war was challenged, as well as the efcacy of the U.S. war effort and the viability of the South Vietnamese regime, the public was infected with a sense of national tragedy.6

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Intuitively, there was an organic connection between the individual and familial trauma of Vietnam, and the social and political change movements that coincided with the war. As mentioned, from an historical perspective, the Vietnam antiwar movement was inextricably connected to the domestic civil rights movement, and the burgeoning movements for liberation that characterized the 1960s and early 1970s. During the period of the ground war, 1965 through 1972, the country was transformed by the social change movements known as the Sixties. Out of the period came the modern feminism, the sexual revolution, the counterculture, the environmental movement, and all the other collective actions for ethnic, sexual and group liberation. The trauma of the war served to catalyze the liberalization and democratization of American society. The orthodox script that had stabilized postWorld War Two America in the 1950s unraveled in the 1960s and 1970s. It would appear that the extraordinary social change of the period was a direct result of the de-legitimating process of the Vietnam War. Vietnam challenged the moral authority of the state, in the same way that the black civil rights movement had. However, the challenge of Vietnam was deeper, more visceral for many Americans, because thousands, indeed, hundreds of thousands and even millions of lives, Vietnamese and American, were sacriced for the cause. The antiwar movement presented U.S. involvement in Vietnam as one of the most destructive actions in modern history. Contending with those claims on a daily basis for nearly a decade, and over decades of cultural memory of the war afterward, was a profound burden for American society. CULTURAL MEMORY OF THE WAR Vietnam, by virtue of its length and intensity, etched itself upon the postSecond World War American psyche. Into the twenty-rst century, the conict remains a very recent cultural and historical memory. Millions of Vietnam War veterans, and in total more than 100 million living Americans, remember the war as a life experience. The present living memory of the conict makes Vietnam as much a part of the present as it does the past. In both subtle and explicit ways, the war maintains a place of central importance in Americas cultural memory. As with other military conicts in American history, Vietnam represents a collection of images and meanings. Indelibly etched in the minds of the postSecond World War generation who fought, protested and lived through the war, are the singular images of the conict that shaped their perceptions of it. For the baby boom generation, adolescence and young adulthood was dened by television images, dinner table debates, protests and marches

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that went on for years. For those in the generation who went to Vietnam, and experienced the war as combatants, the intensity of their memories cannot be understood by those who were not there.7 The war is memorialized in scores of feature lms that have explored its many different perspectives and dimensions. Major cinematic treatments depict the sheer brutality of the conict and its traumatizing effects on the American soldier. Particular scenes that are emblematic of the war genre involve the massive explosions of napalm on either villages or enemy troop concentrations. In the burning of rural villages, surrounded by jungle or rice paddies, Hollywood movies have presented a central meaning of the war to American culture: that a technocratic war fought against Third World peasants was a moral disaster. The overwhelming power of U.S. weapons symbolized in the village immolations suggested not only the wars immorality, but also its stupidity; if the enemy was only a peasant in black pajamas, why was it necessary to ght him at all?8 Since the end of the conict in the 1970s, the overwhelming cultural representations have portrayed a war that is inconsistent with the perceptions of most senior ofcers who fought it. While Hollywood, with a few exceptions, have portrayed the war as immoral and a failure of catastrophic proportions, the institutional memory of the armed forces remains nearly diametrically opposed to this popular motif. For the professional military, the war was lost by the civilian leadership, which refused to give the armed forces the means to win a war against an adversary who could have been defeated. While the Vietnamese communists have been treated with respect in Hollywood, as a determined and irascible foe, the military in its image of its adversary did not conate authentic Vietnamese nationalism with Vietnamese communism. Still, the cultural memory of the Vietnam War remained that of a classic and enduring tragedy in American history. For the past three decades, the war has been a cautionary tale of noble purpose turned to ignoble deeds and ends. The military has been viewed alternatively as a villain and a victim of the tragedy, produced by civilian policy makers, but inuenced deeply by the political and ideological interests of the armed forces. In terms of public policy, the cultural memory of the war points to the limits of American power, its fallibility and its dependence upon the will of the American public. PSYCHIATRIC PROBLEMS OF VETERANS When calculating the human cost of a war, the most overlooked factors are the long-term psychiatric casualties of the conict. As noted in an

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earlier chapter, the psychiatric casualties of the Vietnam War were a major legacy that has been studied at length. All wars by their nature produce injuries that are only apparent in the postwar behavior of the aficted. The Vietnam War has demonstrated a particular legacy of psychiatric disability among its veterans. Vietnam veterans have been shown to have experienced long-term trauma related to the experience of combat in a distant and foreign land, where the destructive effects of modern weapons had strong negative effects on many of the soldiers. A 1990 National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study (NVRS) found that 15 percent of Vietnam veterans, over 450,000 soldiers, sailors and airmen, suffered from posttraumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) severe enough to require long-term psychiatric treatment. In addition, an estimate of 50 percent more, or 1.5 million in-country veterans, suffered from various levels of PTSD.9 These were the direct psychiatric costs to the U.S. military for ghting the Vietnam War. It does not include the millions of immediate relatives impacted by the psychiatric traumas experienced by their sons, brothers, husbands and fathers. In calculating the cost of a war in lives, the ofcial casualty count has always underestimated the true human damage of the conict. With the Vietnam War, this was especially true. The relatively minor death toll of 57,000 over twelve years, ignores the upward of a million with serious wounds, physical and psychiatric, that described the full cost of the war to the United States. POST-VIETNAM: DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL CONTEXT OF THE U.S. MILITARY For post-Vietnam U.S. foreign relations, the legacy of the war has been elemental. For three decades, the standard comparison for all American interventions has been Vietnam. Fear of a repetition of the Vietnam experience colored the use of force and especially the deployment of ground forces, in every presidential administration from Gerald Ford to George W. Bush. Since 1975, the standard tests for the use of force in U.S. foreign relations have been its probable cost in American lives, and the ability of the government to affect an exit strategy. This was true during the rst Gulf War, when half a million soldiers were deployed to liberate Kuwait. The number of casualties and the need to remove the forces as quickly as possible were deemed politically vital parameters. The same principles held true for the second Gulf War, although their implementation has, as of this writing, failed to achieve these essential tests. Above all else, the political cost of combat deaths and the exposure of large numbers of troops to the risk of mortality became the standard limiting factor in U.S. intervention overseas.

152 THE END OF THE DRAFT AND THE RISE OF THE VOLUNTEER ARMY

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Partly to mitigate the political risks of a conscripted military exposed to casualties, the military draft ended with the Nixon administration and Vietnam. Over time, the transition to an all-volunteer armed forces had a dramatic effect not only on the readiness of the military but on the context of the militarys role in American society as well. Without a national draft, the armed forces are freed from the political liabilities incurred by sending draftees to ght on foreign soil for strategic but not essentially national security purposes. This has provided some protection from the draft resistance which inspired the antiwar movement, that in turn fueled the political collapse of the militarys war plans during the Vietnam conict.10 The replacement of the selective service system, a direct outcome of the Vietnam War, has enhanced the force readiness and professionalism of the armed forces. In post-Vietnam deployment, the all-volunteer military has worked expertly with well-motivated and professional troops. By the rst years of the twenty-rst century, a U.S. president had no difculty deploying large numbers of troops abroad in Afghanistan, and then in Iraq, under serious combat conditions where they received substantial casualties. In a sense, this part of the wars legacy may be viewed positively by the senior leadership of the U.S. military. Conversely, the end of the draft contributed to the division in American society between civilian and military cultures. With the end of universal conscription, military service became the province of particular groups within American culture. The culture of military elites centered at the service academies and in military communities became increasingly insular to the urbane liberal culture that informs so much of modern U.S. society. This separation between military and civilian elites has resulted in mutually antagonistic attitudes between these groups. In the late twentieth century, military professionals continued to cultivate an insular and contemptuous view of a secular and cosmopolitan civilian society centered on consumerism and self-fulllment. The mutual antipathy was represented almost in geographic terms, as California and New Yorkbased culture, dominated by the most current trends in liberal thought, did not promote the military values most identied with Americas rural and industrial heartlands. Instead of self-actualization and cosmopolitanism, the values most valuable to the military remained patriotism, conformity and self-sacrice. In post-Vietnam America, even postSeptember 11 America, military and civilian cultures remained divided by values and ideological orientations that were traceable to the Vietnam War and the 1960s social and cultural revolutions.11

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A POST-VIETNAM WORLD The immediate aftermath of the Vietnam War was a very different Cold War. The Peoples Republic of China, perceived as a dangerous adversary in 1965, was no longer a strategic threat in 1975. Indeed, the death of Mao Zedong in 1976 led to the purge of his orthodox Maoist regime. By the late 1970s, China and the United States had established formal diplomatic relations and an informal alliance against the Soviet Union. Instead of being Democratic Republic of Vietnams vital ally, as it was for all of the war against the Americans, as well as the previous war against the French, China and Vietnam returned to the historical enmity that characterized Sino-Vietnamese relations for some 2,000 years. Maos successor Deng Xiaoping conded in President Carter before he launched a border war against Vietnam in 1979. Deng referred to Vietnam as an Asian version of Cuba. An aggressive country that he believed had to be contained in the interests of both the United States and China.12 Indeed, the Cold War was alive and well after the American defeat in Indochina. However, the global conict had clearly returned to bipolarity. The Soviet Union took advantage of the strategic retreat of the United States by extending its inuence not only in Indochina but throughout Africa, parts of Latin America and the Middle East as well. Soviet advisors poured into Vietnam, who now relied on the Russians for economic and military aid as well as protection from the Chinese. The Soviet Navy took over Da Nang, giving it a valuable strategic position to challenge the U.S. Navy in the Southern Pacic. The Soviets sent advisors and Cuban troops to half a dozen newly independent African countries, as the former Portuguese colonies became doctrinaire Marxist regimes. Soviet inuence was evident throughout Central America, as liberation movements in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua were assisted by the Soviet Bloc. Pro-Soviet groups were active in South America and in the Caribbean. Briey, the small island republic of Grenada had a proSoviet government in the early 1980s, before it succumbed to a U.S. invasion.13 The strategic consequences of U.S. defeat in Indochina were important. Soviet power was resurgent in Europe, the Middle East and ultimately throughout the world. Along with the growth of Marxist regimes in the Third World, the Soviet maintained an enormous program to expand its nuclear capabilities. The nuclear forces of the USSR grew dramatically in the 1970s. Whereas, in the early 1960s, the Soviets had barely a handful of operational ICBMs, by mid-1970s, those numbers were now in the thousands. With its huge armored divisions deployed in Central Europe, with many thousands of heavy tanks, and its evergrowing nuclear arsenal, capable of destroying all regions of the free

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world, the Soviets appeared as a daunting threat. By the end of the 1970s, the cascade of Soviet expansion and the growth of anti-Western Marxist regimes suggested if only for a short time, that the United States was in danger of being overtaken by the USSR as a global power.14 By the time Ronald Reagan reached the presidency in 1981, the United States looked like a declining world power. Its economic dominance appeared to be under serious challenge from both Japan in East Asia and the Common Market countries of Western Europe. German and Japanese economic power and Soviet military ascendancy suggested the comparative decline of the United States. In the Third World, anti-Western ideologies were rampant. With the Iranian revolution of 1978, and the subsequent Iranian hostage crisis of 19791980, American prestige and ideology appeared under serious threat from a new and very violent form of Islamic fundamentalism. The new Islamic threat looked as if it could sweep through the Middle East, just as burgeoning communist movements were surging through Central America, the Caribbean, Africa and Southeast Asia. The European powers had experienced strategic decline throughout the middle decades of the century. Now in the 1980s, the decade after Vietnam, the United States appeared to be experiencing a similar decline in military as well as economic dominance. In this post-Vietnam world, the shadow of the Indochinese wars was unmistakable. After Vietnam, there were clear limits on the use of American power set by its public opinion and national memory. Not until the end of the Cold War, and Saddam Husseins invasion of Kuwait in 1990, did the United States consider a limited war against a very determined adversary. The rst Gulf War was opposed by most of the senior ofcers in the U.S. military. Even the commander of CENTCOM, Norman Schwarzkopf, was deeply nervous about launching a ground war against the Iraqi Army. Both Schwarzkopf and Colin Powell, the chairman of the JCS, were combat veterans of the Vietnam War. Both men viewed the possibility of a land war with deep reluctance, unlike an earlier generation of Army generals, who saw Indochina as a proper battleground. The memory of the Vietnam War, with its daunting images of a costly and unwinnable proposition, framed the thinking of military commanders twenty years later. Sitting alone with Powell in his Pentagon ofce, Hine asked him how he saw the Gulf crisis and was struck by his extreme caution on the use of military force. Powell was making the case for relying on economic sanctions. War with Iraq, Powell argued, would be politically damaging to Western interests in the Middle East. It was not clear where it would lead; you could win the victory and lose the peace . . .

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Surprised by Powells arguments on behalf of economic sanctions, Hine asked the chairman if he would be willing to wait twelve to fteen months to see if the sanctions would work . . . Powell indicated he would.15 LESSONS LEARNED The Vietnam conict had broad long-term effects on the institutions of the armed forces. Lessons learned or institutional memory created a template for future military ofcers as they undertook the tasks required of the U.S. armed forces. The war has been studied intensively by military historians employed by the various service branches. The intergovernmental decision-making process has been the subject of a ve-volume study that to date runs into many thousands of pages. Over the course of more than a generation since the end of the Vietnam War, the military worked to make sure that the lessons of the Vietnam were inculcated into the training and doctrine of all its services. Nonetheless, as recent military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq have shown, the complexities of counterinsurgency warfare, as well the equal complexities of intergovernmental relations have shown that even with the most rigorous understanding of the failures and successes of the Vietnam War, the same patterns of ineffective operations and incoherent strategy once more repeated themselves. One lesson of the war concerns the complex and politicized nature of the national security system. The best plans and intentions of eld commanders may be compromised by the bureaucratic system that they operate within.16 International wars are extraordinarily uncertain and labyrinthine events. Uncertainty always exists on the battleeld, as well as within the decision-making circles of international actors all over the world. The Vietnam War was a global conict, involving domestic and international actors, individuals, groups, organizations and nation-states who worked often independently of each other for their own purposes. The same bewildering mix of countervailing forces present during the Vietnam War were experienced in post-Vietnam conicts. To a large degree, the unpredictable and uncontrollable nature of international wars are a reality that cannot be learned, only endured. Nonetheless, important lessons were learned from the Indochina conicts. After Vietnam, the militarys senior ofcer corps understood the critical failure of the war was political. During the post-Vietnam era up until the present, military elites consistently opposed large-scale overseas deployments, unless the nations political will was mobilized to support full-scale military action. In broad strategic terms, for the military to

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back a major engagement with sincerity, the JCS had to be assured that the application of force would be decisive, and that the country would support its actions irrespective of the results. Admiral Ulysses S. G. Sharp, CINCPAC during the period of the wars escalation, summarized his beliefs in the lessons learned from the conict. The aims or objectives of an international political strategy may quite reasonably and legitimately be limited, as were ours in Vietnam, but the actual application of military force required to achieve those aims cannot and must not be tactically limited. Our civilian leadership has the awesome task of deciding when the United States should resort to armed force to gain its objectives, limited or otherwise. Once the decision has been made to wage war, that leadership must permit the war to be engaged expeditiously and full bore, not halfway.17 The lessons of Indochina were learned with American blood. They were impressed on the minds of junior and senior ofcers who fought the conict at the eye level. After Vietnam, all of the fatal aws of the war that could be avoided were avoided. High military casualties were no longer an option in wars that were not directed for the defense of the American homeland. In future wars, the post-Vietnam military would require necessary forces and rules of engagement to win. These general principles were followed in both Gulf Wars, the Afghan intervention and in the two Balkan conicts of the Clinton administration. In the Balkans, casualties were kept astonishingly low by resorting to only air power against the Serbian forces. The Afghan war against the Taliban was also fought largely in the air by U.S. and allied forces. In Afghanistan, only a very small elite group of special forces were used to direct the air war and assist the native Afghan armies who were our allies. In both Gulf War I and Gulf War II, allied casualties were strictly limited by design. However, the use of formidable U.S. repower from all four service branches was a priority. In practical terms, the military achieved most of its objectives not to repeat the experiences of Vietnam. As noted, the rst Gulf War was not supported by the JCS, in the same way that the Vietnam conict was lobbied for by a military determined to protect vital U.S. strategic interests in Indochina. On the contrary, after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in August 1990, the expert opinion of the highest ranking military ofcer, Vietnam veteran Colin Powell, chairman of the JCS, was to contain rather than attack Iraqi forces. Viewing the Middle East with respect to

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his experience as a combat ofcer in Vietnam, Powell was deeply averse to sending 500,000 U.S. troops against an entrenched enemy. He preferred to keep his forces in the Saudi Arabian desert, feeding them fuel and food for many months if not years, to contain Iraqs land Army rather than attack it. However, when the war was ordered by the White House, the campaign was fought according to the principles of war. The First Gulf War, dened by the administration of George H. Bush as a limited war, was fought under Powells Clausewitzian doctrine of invincible force. The deft use of its massive repower and the total avoidance of making the United States an occupying Army limited U.S. casualties during the First Gulf War to only a few hundred.18 This result, which was trumpeted as proof that the United States had nally overcome the Vietnam syndrome, was in stark contrast to hundreds of thousands dead and wounded during Vietnam. Instead of ten years of agonizing occupation and attrition, the war to liberate Kuwait lasted forty days. An invasion of Iraq was never considered, precisely because such a strategy would contradict the fundamental rules that governed post-Vietnam wars. In later conicts, the same parameters dened by Vietnam were kept in place. During the Clinton administration, a number of limited wars were fought to support limited strategic and political objectives. U.S. forces were dispatched to Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia and Kosovo in small conicts with mixed results. The Clinton national security team had to contend with the emerging threat of Al Qaeda, but its military response was always very limited. With the end of the Cold War, the shadow of Vietnam required strict constraints on military force. In Somalia, a deadly engagement in the capital city left a score of elite U.S. Army troops dead. Yet, Clinton had no appetite for war. He ordered his troops withdrawn. The legacy of Vietnam made both the military and the civilian managers of the national security system deeply sensitive to the role of public opinion in war. Through structural design, the mass media was managed intensively by Pentagon ofcials during both the First and Second Gulf Wars. If any lesson of Vietnam carried weight with executive branch it was the critical need for controlling the images and perceptions of war that were fed to a world audience. It was imperative to both military and civilian professionals in national security affairs that the political basis for any military engagement had to be maintained, or the policy faced disaster. After the events of September 11, 2001, the countrys and the militarys common aversion to ghting wars in the Third World was suspended. In quick fashion, U.S. air power and special forces were dispatched to

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Afghanistan. The success of the Afghan war, brief and with vast multinational support, can be compared with the Second Gulf War of 2003. This second war on the Arabian Peninsula did not have the immediate backing of the JCS. Iraq was not considered an immediate strategic threat to the United States in the early 2000s. On the contrary, the country was contained. Nonetheless, civilian authority demanded a war, and the military complied.19 Unlike the Vietnam War, the ensuing years of counterinsurgency warfare in Iraq have not placed a moral burden on the U.S. military. Responsibility for the war and its aftermath was placed squarely on the shoulders of the presidential administration in Washington. The prisoner-of-war abuses connected with the operation of an offshore prison in Cuba, and the sensational sexual tortures connected to Abu Ghraib prison during the second Iraq War, have done far more damage to the image of the Bush White House than to the U.S. military. Unlike previous eras, the U.S. military after Vietnam and the Cold War was no longer considered a separate political force in international affairs. The military, it has been assumed, only follows orders. As a consequence, during the post-Vietnam war era, and now postSeptember 11 era, the military has gained a depth of political legitimacy it had not enjoyed since the 1950s. To serve in the armed forces, in the early twenty-rst century, has become the ultimate act of patriotism. As a cultural icon, the military has regained the status it had when President Eisenhower identied it as one of the pillars of American society. The Vietnam experience embedded in the institutional culture and memory of the armed forces the necessity of maintaining political legitimacy. The extensive use of special forces and counterinsurgency methods developed the role of small arms and unconventional or asymmetric warfare for future conicts. After Vietnam, the military had a far broader concept of the nature of war. In addition to the strategic level of warfare, which was not forgotten, the disbursed guerrilla conicts of the late twentieth and twenty-rst centuries presented the Vietnam War as a founding experience for the military. War not only concerned conventional and nuclear arms, but also the very hard and particular concerns of local wars that were an amalgam of military and political conicts. With the end of the Cold War, the unconventional and asymmetric battleelds so familiar in Vietnam became truly the U.S. militarys battleeld for the indenite future.20 For the U.S. military, the ultimate lesson of Vietnam remained elemental. The basic truth of all armed conict was the fundamental political nature of war. For senior military ofcers, analysts and theorists, the essential political denition of war required a deep understanding of

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how the military as an institution or institutional system must manage its political environments, in the same way that the civilian institutions of the executive branch have done with skill. The use of force by any country requires as a political basis, strong support within the bureaucratic departments of the government. During the Vietnam War, policy was a global enterprise that required consultation between the White House, the National Security Council, the State Department, the Pentagon, the Congressional leadership, allied governments and the U.S. armed forces in the eld. Somehow, all the stakeholders in the management of the war had to make effective a workable strategy that satised both elite and mass public opinion in the United States and overseas. The political environments to be managed were internal, domestic and international. Any large and long-term engagement of U.S. forces must have the full political support of the American public. The use of force must be aimed at particular objectives that can be achieved with the resources that will be committed to the task. Above all else, the deployment of U.S. forces overseas to engage in combat operations must be carefully and conservatively weighed as a proper use of the armed forces. The military must be able to win all engagements it is ordered to execute. If the U.S. military is to maintain the morale and readiness of its forces, they cannot afford to sustain serious casualties and ultimately not win a conict. The militarys effective defeat in Indochina weighed deeply on an ofcer corps whose institutional history had never suffered defeat in an entire campaign. Without victory in Vietnam, the political parameters for using force were changed. After Vietnam, the professional ofcer corps, which had been eager to use force in Indochina, changed its strategic ideology. For the generation of young military ofcers who experienced Vietnam War, future conicts had to be different. The painful memory of Vietnam had much to do with the opposition of almost the entire senior ofcer corps to the First Gulf War in 1990. It remained an operational constraint for the use of force during the recurring Balkan crises in the 1990s. The ghost of Vietnam haunted American intervention after September 11. In Afghanistan, no more than a few thousand elite troops were deployed on the ground in the successful overthrow of the Taliban regime in 20012002. During the Second Gulf War, a powerful American Army, supported by a small contingent of British troops, occupied a country as foreign and as complex as Vietnam and Indochina were in the 1960s. The ensuing loss of life through the Iraqi insurrection has returned the military and American society to the Vietnam War era. A deadly war of attrition against an elusive enemy consumes the nation in a similar way to Indochina some three decades in the past.

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Lessons were learned and, in the case of Iraq, lessons revisited. The political context of war, its essential embedded nature in the dynamics of public opinion, institutional and group interests, and international politics make it more than simply the technical application of military power to a particular eld of operations. Modern U.S. international history has once again proven Clausewitz correct. War by its nature is politics carried out by other means. This was true in Vietnam, and afterward.

Notes
CHAPTER 1: THE CONTEXT OF CIVIL-MILITARY RELATIONS 1. Some important works on this topic include Jeffrey J. Clarke, Advice and Support: The Final Years, 19651973 (Washington, DC: Center of Military History, United States Army, 1988); Harry G. Summers Jr., On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War (New York: Ballantine Books, 1995); Robert Buzzanco, Masters of War, Military Dissent and Politics in the Vietnam War Era (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996); H. R. McMaster, Dereliction of Duty, Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, The Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997); and Orrin Schwab, Defending the Free World: John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and the Vietnam War, 19611965 (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1998). 2. Acheson to Truman, Memorandum for the President, Washington, DC, February 2, 1950, in The Pentagon Papers: The Defense Department History of Decisionmaking on Vietnam, ed. Mike Gravel, 5 vols. (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971), 1:641:65; Henry Kissinger, Ending the Vietnam War: A History of Americas Involvement in and Extrication from the Vietnam War (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003), 532555; Nguyen Tien Hung and Jerrold L. Schecter, Palace File (New York: Harper & Row, 1986), 276332. 3. For the history of Vietnamese to foreign occupation, see David G. Marr, Vietnamese Anti-Colonialism, 18851925 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971); Joseph Buttinger, The Smaller Dragon: A Political History of Vietnam (New York: Praeger, 1958); Keith Weller Taylor, The Birth of Vietnam (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983); Stein Tonnesson, The Vietnamese Revolution of 1945, Roosevelt, Ho Chi Minh and De Gaulle in a World at War (London: Sage Publications, 1991); David G. Marr, Vietnam 1945: The Quest for Power (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995).

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4. Taylor, The Birth of Vietnam, 250301; Buttinger, The Smaller Dragon, 67110. 5. Buttinger, The Smaller Dragon, 21. 6. Marr, Vietnam 1945, 402462; Tonnesson, The Vietnamese Revolution of 1945, 362407; Joseph Buttinger, Vietnam: A Dragon Embattled, Vol. I: From Colonialism to the Viet Minh (New York: Praeger, 1967), 320339. 7. Marr, Vietnam 1945, 520539. 8. William Conrad Gibbons, The U.S. Government and the Vietnam War: Executive and Legislative Roles and Relationships, Part 1: 19451960 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986), 1722. 9. Ibid., 3463; Marr, Vietnam 1945, 491493; Ronald Spector, The United States Army in Vietnam, Advice and Support: The Early Years (Washington, DC: Center of Military History, 1985), 105121. 10. National Security Council (hereafter NSC), The Position of the United States with Respect to Asia, December 23, 1949, Foreign Relations of the United States (hereafter FRUS), vol. VI (Washington, DC: GPO, 1969), 12151220; Andrew Rotter, The Path to Vietnam: Origins of the American Commitment to Southeast Asia (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1987); Gibbons, U.S. Government and the Vietnam War, 1:711:78. 11. Pentagon Papers, 1:281:52. 12. Gibbons, U.S. Government and the Vietnam War, 1:641:120; Arthur J. Dommen, The Indochinese Experience of the French and the Americans, Nationalism and Communism in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam (Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2001), 113171. 13. USAID, United States Assistance to South Vietnam, October 14, 1975, unpublished paper, pp.2347, Vietnam Archive, Lubbock, TX. Available online at www.star.vietnam.ttu.edu. 14. The Domino Theory was rst articulated during the Truman administration in NSC 48. See Gibbons, U.S. Government and the Vietnam War, 1:66; Pentagon Papers, 1:82. 15. Leslie H. Gelb and Richard K. Betts, The Irony of Vietnam: The System Worked (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 1979), 181200; Schwab, Defending the Free World, 204210; Lloyd C. Gardner, Pay Any Price: Lyndon Johnson and the Wars for Vietnam (Chicago: Ivan Dee, 1995), 201218. 16. Michael Hogan, A Cross of Iron: Harry S. Truman and the Origins of the National Security State, 19451954 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 265314; John Lewis Gaddis, Strategies of Containment (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982). 17. NSC, National Security Policy, Arms Control and Disarmament, Washington, May 5, 1958, FRUS, 19581960, vol. III (Washington, DC: GPO, 1996), 98116, 101. 18. The CIA was created as part of the National Security Act of 1947. Its full unclassied text is available at www.intelligence.gov/0-natsecact_1947.shtml. The Defense Intelligence Agency came into existence in October 1961 as part of the reorganization of national security under the Kennedy administration. See

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Deane J. Allen and Brian G. Shellum, eds., At the Creation, 19611965: Origination Documents of the Defense Intelligence Agency (Washington, DC: D.I.A. History Ofce, 2002). 19. The idea of a script for the collective behavior of groups and nation-states was developed in my previous work. See Orrin Schwab, Redeemer Nation: America and the World in the Technocratic Age: 1914 to the Present (Salt Lake: American Colleges and Universities Press, 2004), 3382; Schwab, Defending the Free World, 136; Hogan, A Cross of Iron, 122. 20. Goldwater was an air-power enthusiast. Reecting his Air Force training, he rejected, like General Douglas MacArthur, a ground war on the Asian mainland as too costly. He praised the president for initiating the bombing of supply routes and smugly declared in April 1965: Today, the U.S. is moving rmly and decisively on a foreign policy course charted straight out of the Republican campaign of 1964. Robert Alan Goldberg, Barry Goldwater (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995), 244. 21. Schwab, Redeemer Nation, 4146; Schwab, Defending the Free World, 166168. 22. There is now an extensive literature on the Munich analogy. See Jeffrey Record, Making War, Thinking History: Munich, Vietnam, and Presidential Uses of Force from Korea to Kosovo (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2003); Yuen Foong Khong, Analogies at War: Korea, Munich, Dien Bien Phu, and the Vietnam Decisions of 1965 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992). 23. In his memoirs, Dean Acheson regretted the insinuation of his famous January 1950 press conference speech that Korea was not part of the American defense perimeter. He suggested that he was merely quoting the national security doctrine dened by Joint Chiefs of Staff and General Douglas MacArthur, which dened Japan and its outer islands as the strategic line of defense for the United States in East Asia. Dean Acheson, Present at the Creation: My Years at the State Department (New York: W.W. Norton, 1969), 355358. 24. George Bush Sr.s famous line in the sand statement regarding the 1990 invasion of Kuwait was emblematic of the Munich syndrome. Conversely, the response of his generals as well as the Congress to the prospects of a new land war was symptomatic of the Vietnam syndrome. A similar dichotomy existed during the Second Gulf War. 25. Karl Von Clausewitz, On War (Washington, DC: Infantry Journal Press, 1950). 26. Ibid., 124. 27. This was a major theme of my previous work. See Schwab, Defending the Free World, 153210. CHAPTER 2: INTERVENTION 1. State Department, Memorandum for the Record, Washington, January 19, 1961, FRUS, 19611963, vol. XXIV: Laos Crisis, docs. 89. www.state .gov/r/pa/ho/frus/kennedyjf/53950.htm; Defense Department, Memorandum: Nitze to McNamara, Washington, January 23, 1961, FRUS, 19611963,

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vol. XXIV, doc. 10; Joint Chiefs of Staff, Memorandum of Conference with President Kennedy, January 25, 1961, FRUS, 19611963, vol. XXIV, doc. 12. 2. Ibid. The military advice by the JCS on Laos was primarily ad hoc. It reected divergent service strategies that were uniformly aggressive: The Attorney General asked where would be the best place to stand and ght in Southeast Asia, where to draw the line. Mr. McNamara said he thought we would take a stand in Thailand and South Viet-Nam. The Attorney General asked whether we would save any of Laos, but the major question was whether we would stand up and ght. Admiral Burke said that we could hold Tourane, and General Le May observed that we could use our air power back as far as necessary, letting the enemy have all of the countryside but that the PL could be stopped by air power. . . . Admiral Burke pointed out that each time you give ground it is harder to stand next time. If we give up Laos we would have to put US forces into Viet-Nam and Thailand. We would have to throw enough in to win perhaps the works. It would be easier to hold now than later. The thing to do was to land now and hold as much as we can and make clear that we were not going to be pushed out of Southeast Asia. We were ghting for the rest of Asia. State Department, Memorandum of Conversation, Washington, April 29, 1961, 9:05 a.m.9:50 a.m., doc. 67. 3. JCS, JCSM-170-61, JCS to Secretary of Defense McNamara, Washington, March 17, 1961; National Security Policy, doc. 24, enclosure at www.state .gov/r/pa/ho/frus/kennedyjf/viii/32070.htm; JCS, CM-190-61, Lemnitzer to McNamara, Washington, April 18, 1961, doc. 25; JCS, JCSM-252-61, JCS to McNamara, Washington, April 18, 1961, doc. 25 (attachment) in FRUS, 19611963, vol. VIII; Schwab, Defending the Free World, 2225. 4. In response to what he perceived as the sluggish and inept Vietnam policy of the Kennedy administration, Lemnitzer made his views explicit to his fellow ofcers and to the civilians in the Defense Department: In view of the very real enemy threat in Vietnam and the fact that in the eyes of the world, and particularly in the Far East, the international prestige of the U.S. is literally at stake, I feel that we must avoid the marginal and piecemeal efforts that too often have typied the nest and build into our program sufcient support in men, material and money to denitely assure that we do not lose Vietnam. Lemnitzer to the JCS, Telegram, Seoul, May 8, 1961, 2:39 p.m., FRUS, 19611963, vol. I: Vietnam, 1961, doc. 47, at www.state.gov/www/about_ state/history/vol_i_1961/e.html. 5. Jeffrey Clarke, U.S. Army in Vietnam, 4960; U.S. Army, Joint Staff, Command History, Military Assistance Command Vietnam, 1964, published in Carrs Compendium of the Vietnam WarSet 1 (DCB Software Testing Inc., 2004), ADA955106.pdf.

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6. Pentagon Papers, 2:1282:159; State Department, Memorandum, Hilsman to Forrestal, Washington, January 25, 1963, FRUS, 19611963, vol. III: Vietnam, JanuaryAugust 1963, doc. 19, at www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/kennedyjf/ iii/6158.htm. 7. State Department, Final Report of the Vietnam Task Force, Washington, July 1, 1962 in FRUS, 19611963, vol. II: Vietnam 1962, doc. 233, at www .state.gov/www/about_state/history/vol_ii_196163/t.html; Gibbons, The U.S. Government and the Vietnam War, 2:1042:107; Pentagon Papers, 2:1392: 143. 8. JCS, The History of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: The Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Vietnam War, 19601968, Part 1, 4:44:28. No date. Declassied U.S. Government Document. Published DCB Software Inc. 2004. 9. JCS, CM-117-62, Taylor to McNamara, Washington, November 17, 1962, FRUS: Vietnam 1962, doc. 319; State Department, Harriman to Nolting, Washington, October 12, 1962, FRUS: Vietnam 1962, doc. 300. 10. Pentagon Papers, 2:1502:157; JCS, JCS Team Report on Vietnam, January 1963, FRUS: Vietnam, JanuaryAugust 1963, doc. 26; Schwab, Defending the Free World, 5358. 11. White House, Memorandum of Conversation, Washington, September 10, 1963, 10:30 a.m., FRUS, 19611963, vol. IV: Vietnam, AugustDecember 1963, doc. 83, www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/kennedyjf/iv/12647.htm. Compare the simultaneous reports by Marine Corps General Victor Krulak and civilian USIA Ofcer Joseph Mecklin; USIA, Memorandum, Mecklin to Murrow, En Route to Washington, September 10, 1963, FRUS, 19611963, vol. IV, doc. 81, and JCS, Report, Krulak to JCS, En route to Washington, September 10, 1963, FRUS, 19611963, vol. IV, doc. 82. 12. CIA, Memorandum, Cooper to McCone, Washington, December 6, 1963, FRUS, 19611963, vol. IV: Vietnam, AugustDecember 1963, doc. 349, www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/kennedyjf/iv/12675.htm; Defense Department, Memorandum, McNamara to LBJ, Washington, December 21, 1963, FRUS, 19611963, vol. IV, doc. 371. 13. CIA, Report, TDCS DB-3/655, 301, Washington, June 28, 1963, FRUS: Vietnam, JanuaryAugust 1963, doc. 190; State Department, Telegram, Lodge to Rusk, Saigon, August 24, 1963, 6 p.m., FRUS: Vietnam, JanuaryAugust 1963, doc. 275. 14. NSC, Memorandum for the Record, Washington, August 26, 1963, noon, FRUS: Vietnam, JanuaryAugust 1963, doc. 289; NSC, Memorandum, Forrestal to JFK, Washington, August 27, 1963, FRUS: Vietnam, JanuaryAugust 1963, doc. 302; NSC, Memorandum of Conference with the President, Washington, August 27, 1963, 4 p.m., FRUS: Vietnam, JanuaryAugust 1963, doc. 303. 15. White House, Memorandum of Conference with the President, August 29, 1963, noon, FRUS: Vietnam, AugustDecember 1963, doc. 15; State Department, Telegram, Rusk to Lodge, Washington, August 29, 1963, 5:03 p.m., FRUS: Vietnam, AugustDecember, doc.16; ibid., Telegram, JFK to Lodge, Washington, August 29, 1963, doc. 18.

166

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16. Gibbons, The U.S. Government and the Vietnam War, 2:2092:279. 17. Schwab, Defending the Free World, 95. 18. Gibbons, The U.S. Government and the Vietnam War, 2:2822:332; Schwab, Defending the Free World, 81113. 19. Gibbons, The U.S. Government and the Vietnam War, 304; Robert David Johnson, Ernst Gruening and the American Dissenting Tradition (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998), 252254. 20. Gibbons, The U.S. Government and the Vietnam War, 330332, 343357; Pentagon Papers, 3:1873:194; Schwab, Defending the Free World, 117131. 21. Pentagon Papers, 3:4343:452; JCS, Telegram, Westmoreland to the JCS, Saigon, June 7, 1965, 11:35 a.m., FRUS, 19641968, vol. 2: Vietnam, JanuaryJune 1965, doc. 337, www.state.gov/www/about_statem/history/vol_ii/ 336_340.html. 22. JCS, Telegram, Wheeler to Westmoreland, Washington, March 4, 1965, 11:54 a.m., FRUS, 19641968, vol. II: Vietnam, JanuaryJune 1965, doc. 180. 23. Ibid., Pentagon Papers, 3:4233:424. 24. Between February 9 and April 14, 1965, Lyndon Johnson was present at twelve of fourteen congressional meetings where the prospects of Chinese intervention were discussed, in the event of an American ground and air war. Schwab, Defending the Free World, 172. 25. JCS, JCS History of the Vietnam War, 1:131:14. 26. The JCS views of military strategy vis--vis Vietnam in 1965 were presented in the Goodpaster Report. See NSC, Memorandum, Bowman to Bundy, Washington, July 21, 1965, FRUS, 19641968, vol. III: Vietnam, JuneDecember 1965, www.state.gov/www/about_state/history/vol_iii/060.html; George McGarrigle, The U.S. Army in Vietnam: Combat Operations, Taking the Offensive, October 1966 to October 1967 (Washington, DC: Center of Military History, 1998); U.S. Marine Corps, Force Requirements, and Long Range Estimates for I Corps Republic of Vietnam, unpublished document, October 1966, TTU Archive, Lubbock, TX; John Schlight, A War Too Long: The USAF in Southeast Asia, 19611975 (Washington, DC: GPO, 1996). 27. United States Navy, Information Release: Professional Knowledge Gained from Marine Corps Experience in the Republic of Vietnam, April 19, 1966. Vietnam Archive, Lubbock, TX. 28. Donald Mrozek, Air Power and the Ground War in Vietnam, Ideas and Actions (Maxwell AFB, AL: Air University Press, 1988), 326; General William W. Momyer, Airpower in Three Wars (Maxwell AFB, AL: Air University Press, 2003), 140. 29. Schlight, A War Too Long, 82112; Ronald B. Frankum Jr., Like Rolling Thunder: The Air War in Vietnam, 19641975 (New York: Rowman & Littleeld, 2005), 133183. 30. Admiral U.S. Grant Sharp, Strategy for Defeat, Vietnam in Retrospect (Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1978), 3. 31. Schwab, Defending the Free World, 1314, 206210. 32. Ibid., 167168; Gibbons, The U.S. Government and the Vietnam War, Part III, JanuaryJuly, 1965, 199201; Pentagon Papers, 3:3523:353.

NOTES

167

33. Gibbons, The U.S. Government and the Vietnam War, Part IV, July 1965January 1968, 3242. 34. JCSM-457-65, JCS to McNamara, Washington, June 11, 1965, FRUS: Vietnam, JanuaryJune 1965, doc. 346; JCSM-652-65, JCS to McNamara, Washington, August 27, 1965, FRUS: Vietnam, JuneDecember 1965, doc. 130. 35. White House, Memorandum, Manseld to LBJ, June 9, 1965, FRUS: Vietnam, JanuaryJune 1965, doc. 341. CHAPTER 3: OPERATIONS: PART I 1. General George S. Eckhardt, Vietnam Studies, Command and Control, 19501969 (Washington, DC: Department of the Army, 1991), 2763. 2. Pentagon Papers, 3:4083:483, 4:2774:538. 3. The height of the war was an extraordinary example of civil protest. See Charles Bennedetti, An American Ordeal; The Antiwar Movement of the Vietnam Era (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1990), 141276; Tom Wells, The War Within, Americas Battle Over Vietnam (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), 115286. 4. Henry Kissinger, Ending the Vietnam War, A History of Americas Involvement in and Extrication from the Vietnam War (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003), 8185; James Wilbanks, Abandoning Vietnam, How America Left and South Vietnam Lost Its War (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 2004), 566. 5. Wilbanks, Abandoning Vietnam, 122162. 6. Larry Berman, No Peace, No Honor, Nixon, Kissinger and Betrayal in Vietnam (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002), 265273; Nguyen Tien Hung and Jerrold L. Schecter, The Palace File (New York: Harper & Row, 1986), 303349. 7. Mark Kurlansky, 1968: The Year That Rocked the World (New York: Ballantine Books, 2004); Wells, War Within, 297403; Berman, No Peace, No Honor, 240264. 8. Arthur Egendorf, Healing from the War, Trauma and Transformation After Vietnam (Boston: Houghton Mifin, 1985), 137245; Myra McPherson, Long Time Passing, Vietnam and the Haunted Generation (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985), 177278; Phillip Jones Grifth, Agent Orange: Collateral Damage in Vietnam (London: Trolley Press, 2003). 9. The health effects alone were terrible. A National Academy of Sciences study concluded dioxin exposure due to Agent Orange placed a huge health burden on Vietnam: April 17, 1995. Researchers have found that during the spraying of Agent Orange in southern Vietnam, dioxin levels in human tissue were as high as 900 times greater in Vietnamese living in southern Vietnam than those living in northern Vietnam where Agent Orange was not used. Even now, although dioxin levels are at their lowest since the war ended, the study found that dioxin levels are as high as 50 times higher in Vietnamese living

168

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in southern Vietnam than those living in northern Vietnam. These ndings suggest that citizens in southern Vietnam may be at a greater risk of cancers, adverse reproductive and developmental effects, immune deciency, and other adverse health effects due to their exposure to Agent Orange. Quoted in Lindsey Arison, The Herbicidal Warfare Program in Vietnam, 19611971: Executive Summary, at http://members.cox.net/linarison/orange.html. 10. An early seminal study on the Viet Cong was Douglas Pike, Viet Cong, The Organization and Techniques of the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1966). 11. BDM Corporation, A Study of Strategic Lessons Learned in Vietnam, Volume I, 5:125:42. March 1981 in Carrs Compendium. 12. Here is how one historian describes the Hue massacre of the Tet offensive: Residents gradually began to speak more freely of what they had seen and heard. Over weeks, months and even years, the earth yielded up the evidence from schoolyards and parks, coastal salt ats and jungle creek bedsthe bodies of 2800 victims of the occupation shot to death, bludgeoned or buried alive in the most extensive political slaughter of the war. In Don Oberdorfer, Tet! The Turning Point in the Vietnam War (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1971), 201. The Tet offensive has been studied extensively by all sides. See The Military Institute of Vietnam, Victory in Vietnam: The Ofcial History of the Peoples Army of Vietnam, 19541975 (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 2002), 217227; David Elliot, Revolution and Change in the Mekong Delta, 19301975, 2 vols. (London: M.E. Sharpe, 2003) 2:10362:1122; Pham Van Song, The Viet Cong 1968 Tet Offensive, RVNAF, Intelligence Division, unpublished document, pp.276296, 1969, TTU Archive. Lubbock, TX. 13. Summers, On Strategy, 2132; Sharp, Strategy for Defeat, 125132, 259271. 14. Mark W. Woodruff, Unheralded Victory: The Defeat of the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army, 19611973 (Arlington, VA: Vandemere Press, 1999), 948, 182194; Lewis Sorley, A Better War, The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of Americas Last Years in Vietnam (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1999), 305371. 15. The Military Institute of Vietnam, Victory in Vietnam, 449. 16. Barry M. Goldwater and Jack Casserly, Goldwater (New York: Doubleday, 1988), 202. 17. White House, Memorandum, Manseld to LBJ, Washington, July 27, 1965, FRUS: Vietnam, JuneDecember 1965, doc. 96. 18. Noam Chomsky, At War with Asia (New York: Pantheon Books, 1970); Wells, The War Within, 139143; James William Gibson, The Perfect War: Technowar in Vietnam (Boston: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1986).

NOTES

169

19. Schwab, Redeemer Nation, 205285; Gibbons, The U.S. Government and the Vietnam War, 4:7994:839, 924942. 20. Gerald C. Hickey, Shattered World: Adaptation and Survival among Vietnams Highland Peoples During the Vietnam War (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993); Francis J. Kelly, U.S. Army Special Forces 19611971 (Washington, DC: Department of Army, 1973). 21. Gibbons, The U.S. Government and the Vietnam War, 4:2674:352. 22. U.S. Air Force, Unconventional Warfare Part II: Psychological Warfare, December 1962, unpublished monograph, Vietnam Archive, TTU, Lubbock, TX; Ibid., MACV, JUSPAO, Psych Ops in Vietnam, Indications of Effectiveness, Saigon, Vietnam, May 1967, unpublished; MACV, JUSPAO, Introduction to Psychological Warfare, Saigon, Vietnam, September 1966, unpublished. 23. Department of the Army, A Program for the Pacication and Long Term Development of South Vietnam (PROVN), March 1966, ch. 3:473:67 in Carrs Compendium. 24. MACV, 197273 Command History, 1:A-32-4, July 15, 1973. Carrs Compendium. 25. Chester L. Cooper, The American Experience with Pacication in Vietnam: Volume 3: The History of Pacication (Washington, DC: Institute for Defense Analyses, March 1972), 199301. Carrs Compendium. 26. U.S. Senate, Committee on the Judiciary, Problems of War Victims in Indochina, Part 3: North Vietnam, 92nd Cong., 2nd Sess., August 16 and 17, 1972; Problems of War Victims in Indochina, Part 4: North Vietnam, September 28, 1972; Detailed statistics on Vietnam War military and civilian casualties are found at Statistical Data on the Vietnam War, www.ausvets.powerup.com .au/vietnam/vietstat.htm. 27. Vietnam War Statistics at www.militaryhistory.about.com/gi/dynamic/ offsite.htm; Murray Polner, No Victory Parades, The Return of the Vietnam Veteran (New York: Holt Rhinehart & Winston, 1971), 2428. 28. Richard A. Kulka et al., Trauma and the Vietnam War Generation: Report of Findings from the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study (New York: Brunner/Mazel, 1990) cite at www.ncptsd.va.gov/facts/general/fs_ epidemiological.html. These are startling numbers, considering that only 10 percent of U.S. ground forces in Vietnam were considered combat troops; Arthur Egendorf, Healing from the War: Trauma and Transformation after Vietnam (Boston: Houghton Mifin, 1985). 29. Duncan M. Stanton, Drug Use in Vietnam: A Survey among Army Personnel in the Two Northern Corps, Archives of General Psychiatry 26 (March 1972): 279286; L. H. Ingraham, The Nam and the World: A Description of Heroin Use by U.S. Army Enlisted Men Serving in Vietnam, Psychiatry 37 (May 1974): 114128; Brent B. Benda, Predictors of Re-hospitalization of Military Veterans Who Abuse Substances, Social Work Research 25:4, 2001, pp.199204. 30. Shelby Stanton, The Rise and Fall of an American Army: U.S. Ground Forces in Vietnam, 19651973 (Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1985), 294.

170

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31. Military History Institute of Vietnam, Victory in Vietnam, 436450; William J. Duiker, The Communist Road to Power in Vietnam (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1996), 352360. CHAPTER 4: OPERATIONS: PART II 1. The JCS approach to the missile crisis was captured in contemporary transcripts and tape recordings of the extensive crisis meetings: Air Force chief of staff General Curtis LeMay, argues forcefully that the blockade and the political talks without accompanying military action will lead to war. He concludes that the Soviets wont take Berlin if we act in Cuba but will take it if we fail to act [8:30]. This is almost as bad as the appeasement at Munich. . . . I just dont see any other solution except direct military intervention right now. [9:30] JFK cites the fact that nations automatically expel diplomats if their own diplomats are expelled and concludes that if we take military action the USSR will have to as well. [10:25] Several members of the JCS argue for military action and express fears that the blockade alone is a weak response which could lead to nuclear blackmail. [14:25] [Source: JFK Library release notes prepared by Sheldon M. Stern] The Cuban Missile Crisis, October 1829, 1962, at www.hpol.org/jfk/cuban/. 2. Jeffrey Kimball, Nixons Vietnam War (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1998), 146176; Dale R. Herspring, The Pentagon and the Presidency: Civil-Military Relations from FDR to George W. Bush (Lawrence: University of Kansas, 2005), 176196. 3. Schwab, Defending the Free World, 1314, 206210; Schwab, Redeemer Nation, 254282. 4. The extent of difculties facing the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces were revealed in captured enemy documents where Giap critiqued the war effort of each individual military unit. MACV, Captured Enemy Document: Assessment of Situation in SVN by (NV Senior General Vo Nguyen Giap and A) Various Ofcials of COSVN and SVNLA, June 11, 1970. Accession no. 2121212007, Vietnam Archive, Lubbock, TX. 5. Military History Institute in Vietnam, Victory in Vietnam, 206233. 6. MACV, Captured Enemy Document, p.2. 7. Secretary of Defense, Memorandum, FRUS, Vietnam, JuneDecember 1965, July 20, 1965, doc. 67. 8. George Ball, Cutting Our Losses in South Vietnam, Washington, June 1965, FRUS: Vietnam, JuneDecember 1965, doc. 26; George Ball, A Compromise Solution For South Viet-Nam, Washington, June 1965, FRUS: Vietnam, JuneDecember 1965, doc. 40; William Bundy, Memorandum, A Middle Way Course of Action in South Vietnam, Washington, July 1, 1965, FRUS: Vietnam, JuneDecember, doc. 41.

NOTES

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9. Woodruff, Unheralded Victory, 63148; George L. MacGriggle, United States Army in Vietnam: Combat Operations, Taking the Offensive, October 1966 to October 1967 (Washington, DC: Center of Military History, U.S. Army, 1998). 10. Clarke, The Final Years: 19651973, 145148. 11. William C. Westmoreland, A Soldier Reports (New York: Plenum Press, 1976), 155156; Harry G. Summers Jr., Historical Atlas of the Vietnam War (New York: Houghton Mifin, 1995), 102103. 12. Woodruff, Unheralded Victory, 6887; Summers, Historical Atlas of the Vietnam War, 104105; Gibbons, The U.S. Government and the Vietnam War, 4:1004:103. 13. U.S. Army, Ofce of the Deputy Chief of Staff Military Operations, A Program for the Long Term Development and Pacication of South Vietnam (PROVN) (Washington: U.S. Army, March 1966), 9; Carrs Compendium of the Vietnam War (DCB Software Testing Inc., 2004). 14. Gibbons, The U.S. Government and the Vietnam War, 4:5254:529; Thomas C. Thayer, ed., Forces and Manpower: A Systems Analysis View of the Vietnam War, 19651972, 12 vols. (Washington, DC: Pentagon, Southeast Asia Intelligence Division, February 18, 1975), 2:12:78, in Carrs Compendium. 15. William J. Fulbright, The Arrogance of Power (New York: Random House, 1966); William Berman, William Fulbright and the Vietnam War: The Dissent of a Political Realist (Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1988), 7678. 16. Thayer, A Systems Analysis of the Vietnam War, 19651972: Casualties and Losses, 6:16:31; ibid., Forces and Manpower, 2:62:30. 17. White House, Report, Maxwell Taylor, Comments on Viet-Nam, Washington July 1, 1967, FRUS, 19641968, vol. V: Vietnam, 1967, doc. 1, at www .state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/johnsonlb/v/13137.htm; MACV, Westmoreland to Wheeler, Saigon, January 2, 1967, FRUS, 19641968, vol. V, 1238Z, doc. 2. 18. Lloyd C. Gardner, Pay and Price, Lyndon Johnson and the Wars for Vietnam (Chicago: Ivan Dee, 1995), 409458; Well, The War Within, 240262. 19. The principles of war in relation to the Vietnam conict is the subject of Summers work, On Strategy; Russell W. Glenn, No More Principles of War? Parameters, Spring 1998, 4866. 20. Telegram, Chairman of the JCS (Wheeler) to the Commander, MACV (Westmoreland), Washington, March 16, 1968, 2045Z, FRUS: 19641968, Vietnam, vol. V, JanuaryAugust 1968, doc. 136, online edition, 2002. 21. Elliot, The Vietnamese War, 2:11262:1207; Ronald Spector, After Tet, The Bloodiest Year in Vietnam (New York: Free Press, 1993), 279294. 22. Wells, The War Within, 223285; Bennedetti, An American Ordeal, 238274; Mark Kurlansky, 1968: The Year That Rocked The World (New York: Ballantine Books, 2004), 261286. 23. Kissinger, Ending the Vietnam War, 49107; Wells, The War Within, 287340.

172

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24. MACV troop levels declined from 139,000 on January 1, 1972, to 27,000 on December 31, 1972. MACV, United States Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, Command History, 19721973, vol. 2, F-17, unpublished document, August 31, 1973, Carrs Compendium. 25. Berman, No Peace, No Honor, 4760; But now at last, we have the end of the American role in this war clearly in sight. And we are ending our involvement with honor, in a way that will discourage new aggression and contribute to a lasting peace in the Pacic and in the world. Richard Nixon, Remarks to the Corps of Cadets at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. May 29, 1971, Public Papers of the President, Richard Nixon, XXXVII, 19691974, at www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php. 26. Wilbanks, Abandoning Vietnam, 122162. 27. Clarke, Final Years, 19651973, 109194. 28. Postwar assessments by Vietnam report 1.1 million combat related deaths for all communist forces. This was ve times the number of South Vietnamese fatalities (223,000) and nearly twenty times the absolute losses for the United States. In relative terms, as a percentage of national population, communist fatalities were 200 times greater than those of the United States. See www.rjsmith .com/kia_tbl.html. 29. Thayer, ed., A Systems Analysis View of the Vietnam War, Population Security, 9:2589:282. 30. Spencer Rich, Antiwar Senators Open Public-Support Drive, May 9, 1970; Kimball, Nixons Vietnam War, 210223; Wells, The War Within, 419452. 31. On Into Cambodia, Wall Street Journal, April 30, 1970, 18. 32. Frank C. Porter, Business Leaders Support Offensive in Cambodia, Washington Post, May 9, 1970; Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, Nixons Political Gamble Appears More Perilous than Military One, Washington Post, May 6, 1970, A25. 33. Robert C. Maynard, Widening Protest Closes 400 Colleges, Washington Post, May 8, 1970, A16; Haynes Johnson, U.S. Braces as Protests Gain Force, Washington Post, May 8, 1970, A1. 34. John A. Doglione et al., Airpower and the 1972 Spring Invasion (Washington: Air University, 1976), 3. 35. Ibid., 4. 36. Ibid., 9. 37. Transcript of President Nixons Address to Nation on His Policy in Vietnam War, New York Times, May 9, 1972, 18. 38. As a contemporary observer, Curtis LeMay stated his views on Vietnam in his 1965 biography: The military task confronting us is to make it so expensive for the North Vietnamese that they will stop their aggression against South Viet Nam and Laos. If you make it too expensive for them, they will stop. They dont want to lose everything they have.

NOTES

173

There came a time when the Nazis threw the towel into the ring. Same way with the Japanese. We didnt bring that happy day about by sparing with sixteen-ounce gloves. . . . We must throw a punch that really hurts. For example, we could knock out their oil. They dont have oil of their own; it has to come into the country; so there are rich targets, in storage areas sprinkled around. Knock them all out. This immediately brings a lot of things to a halt: transportation and power particularly. It would be the simplest possible application of strategic bombardment, and you could do the job with conventional weapons. You wouldnt have to get into a nuclear fracas. Curtis E. LeMay and MacKinlay Kantor, Mission with LeMay, My Story (New York: Doubleday, 1965), 565. 39. John A. Doglione et al., Airpower and the 1972 Spring Invasion, in Air WarVietnam, ed. Drew Middleton, (New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1978), 99206; Wilbanks, Abandoning Vietnam, 145152; Kimball, Nixons Vietnam War, 302308. 40. Middleton, ed., Air WarVietnam, 277290; Wilbanks, Abandoning Vietnam, 180184; Kimball, Nixons Vietnam War, 364366. 41. Woodruff, Unheralded Victory, 4860; William Colby, Lost Victory, A Firsthand Account of Americas Sixteen Year Involvement in Vietnam (Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1989), 227290, 323356. CHAPTER 5: DENOUEMENT 1. Wilbanks, Abandoning Vietnam, 122; Woodruff, Unheralded Victory, 160168; MACV, MACV Command History, Vol. I, 1970, 3:703:74, Carrs Compendium. 2. Terry H. Anderson, The Sixties and the Movement (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 166167, 229230, 319322; Richard Stacewicz, Winter Soldiers: An Oral History of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1997), 188251. 3. U.S. Senate, Statement of General James Gavin (U.S. Army Retired), February 21, 1967, in Hearing, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 90(1) (Washington, DC: GPO, 1967), 3. 4. Daniel Ellsberg, Secrets, A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers (New York: Viking, 2002), 299381. 5. Stacewicz, Winter Soldiers, 233313; Gerald Nicosia, Home to War, A History of the Vietnam Veterans Movement (New York: Crown Publishers, 2001), 5697. 6. Benedetti, An American Ordeal, 312347; Wells, The War Within, 471532. 7. Richard H. Kohn and Joseph P. Harahan, eds., Strategic Air Warfare: An Interview with Generals Curtis E. LeMay, Leon W. Johnson, David A. Burchinal, and Jack J. Catton (Washington, DC: U.S. Air Force, 1988), 119131.

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8. JCS, Telegram, Lemnitzer to JCS, Seoul, May 8, 1961, 2:39 p.m., FRUS: Vietnam 1961, doc. 47. 9. NSC, Notes on the National Security Council Meeting, Washington, November 15, 1961, 10:00 a.m., FRUS: Vietnam 1961, doc. 254. 10. Ibid. 11. State Department, Report, William Bundy, Washington, November 20, 1967, FRUS, 19641968, vol. V: Vietnam 1967, doc. 408, at www.state.gov/ r/pa/ho/frus/johnsonlb/v/13163.htm. 12. Schlight, A War Too Long, 4762; Summers, On Strategy, 112150; Sharp, Strategy for Defeat, 159175. 13. Hanson Baldwin, U.S. Expected to Limit Build-Up, but Generals Say at Least 4 More Divisions Will be Needed in Vietnam, New York Times, May 1, 1967; Fred J. Cook and Barry Goldwater, Extremist of the Right (New York: Grove Press, 1964), 183; Editorial, A Necessary Action in Cambodia, Chicago Tribune, April 30, 1970; Frank C. Porter, Business Leaders Support U.S. Offensive in Cambodia, Washington Post, May 9, 1970; Max Frankel, Johnson Confers with Eisenhower, Briefs Him on War, New York Times, February 19, 1968. 14. Clarke, Advice and Support, 341359; Wilbanks, Abandoning Vietnam, 542. 15. Kissinger was highly skeptical of Vietnamization as a total solution to the war. See Kimball, Nixons Vietnam War, 180183. 16. Wilbur J. Scott, The Politics of Readjustment: Vietnam Veterans since the War (New York: Aldine De Gruyter, 1993), 22; Elliott L. Meyrowitz and Kenneth J. Campbell, Vietnam Veterans and War Crimes Hearings, in Give Peace a Chance, Exploring the Vietnam Antiwar Movement, ed. Melvin Small and William D. Hoover (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1992), 129140. 17. B. G. Burkett and Glenna Whitley, Stolen Valor: How the Vietnam Generation Was Robbed of Its Heroes and Its History (New York: Verity Press, 1998), 109137. 18. Michal R. Belknap, The Vietnam War on Trial, The Mai Lai Massacre and the Court-Martial of Lieutenant Calley (Lawrence: University of Kansas, 2002), 5997; Over 20,000 Viet Cong political cadres were killed or assassinated by South Vietnamese provincial revolutionary units (PRU) between 1967 and 1972. See Ralph McGehee, CIA and Operation Phoenix in Vietnam, www.shss.montclair.edu/english/furr/phoenixmcg.html; It has been estimated that the Vietnamese communists committed 36,000 assassinations over a period of twenty years. Here is one account: May 22, 1966Viet Cong terrorists slaughter 18 men, a woman and four children late at night in attacking a compound of canal workers in the Mekong Delta Province of An Giang. The defenseless families were shot in their beds. The Viet Cong boasted that the cold-blooded action was deliberate murder for revenge. Survivors quoted them as saying they were retaliating because the 60 canal workers and other residents of An Giang Province

NOTES

175

had been supporting the Government of Vietnam by giving information about the Viet Cong. We are doing this now to teach you a lesson, one Viet Cong cadres was reported as saying, just before he pulled the trigger. Most of the 23 victims were shot in the head. At least 12 others in the compound were wounded. The slayings occurred in Vinh Han Village, 160 kilometers west-southwest of Saigon. United States Mission in Vietnam, A Study: Viet Cong Use of Terror, March 1967, Saigon, Vietnam, 3, Vietnam Archive, TTU, Lubbock, TX. 19. Hung and Schecter, The Palace File, 276317; Wilbanks, Abandoning Vietnam, 256288. 20. Gibbons, The U.S. Government and the Vietnam War, 213266; Berman, William Fulbright and the Vietnam War, 105149. 21. Sorley, A Better War, 357386; Wilbanks, Abandoning Vietnam, 199255. 22. Craig R. Whitney, Thieu Condemns Draft Accord as Surrender to Communists, New York Times, November 1, 1972. 23. Kimball, Nixons Vietnam War, 364371; Sorley, A Better War, 353365; Kissinger, Ending the Vietnam War, 408446; Wilbanks, Abandoning Vietnam, 180198. 24. W. W. Rostow, Brieng Paper, no date, ca. 1969, excerpts in Jeffrey Kimball, The Vietnam War Files, Uncovering the Secret History of the Nixon Era Strategy (Topeka: University of Kansas Press, 2004), 44. 25. Memorandum, Kissinger to Nixon, September 18, 1971, in Kimball, Vietnam War Files, 197. 26. Kissinger, Ending the Vietnam War, 503562; Wilbanks, Abandoning Vietnam, 213276. 27. U.S. Senate, Committee on Armed Services, Vietnam AidThe Painful Options, February 12, 1975 (Washington, DC: GPO, 1975), 67. 28. An entire American army was sacriced on the battleeld of Vietnam. When the war was nally over, the United States military had to build a new volunteer army from the smallest shreds of its tattered remnants. Stanton, The Rise and Fall of an American Army, 368. CHAPTER 6: ALTERNATIVE MEANS 1. Robert W. Komer, The Impact of Pacication on the Insurgency in South Vietnam, September 1970, Rand Corporation, Santa Monica, CA, Vietnam Archive, Lubbock, TX; U.S. House of Representatives, Report, United States Involvement in Southeast Asia, July 6, 1970, 91st Cong., 2nd Sess. (Washington, DC: GPO, 1970). 2. Neil Sheehan, A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam (New York: Random House, 1988), 269386; Cecil B. Currey, Edward Lansdale, the Unquiet American (Boston: Houghton Mifin, 1988). 3. Richard Reeves, Nixons biographer, captured his paranoid nature perfectly:

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Richard Nixon did not like our Jewish friends or New York Jews or the fucking Jewsphrases he regularly used in private, projecting a rhetorical anti-Semitism not uncommon to Republicans of his time, though in his case more vulgar. He sometimes called Kissinger Jew-boy or my Jew-boy, usually when his associate in foreign policy was not in the room, but occasionally when he was. He had already told his national security adviser that the one area of the world where Rogers would have primary authority would be the Middle East. Richard Reeves, President Nixon, Alone in the White House (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001), 42. 4. U.S. Army, Program of Instruction for Military Assistance Training Advisor Course (MATA), April 2, 1962, U.S. Army Special Warfare School, Fort Bragg, NC, unpublished document, accession no. 15630101001, Vietnam Archive, Lubbock, TX; MATA, U.S. Marine Corps, FMFM 8-2, Operations Against Guerrilla Units, December 14, 1964, Washington, DC, accession no. 1070916001. Vietnam Archive, Lubbock, TX. 5. U.S. Army, Report, Participation in the CIDG Program 19611970, no date, Center for Military History, Washington, DC, in Vietnam War: After Action-Lessons Learned Reports, www.Paperlessarchives.com; MACV, Report, The GVN CIDG Political Action Program, March 3, 1965, Saigon, Vietnam, accession no. 2120419003, Vietnam Archive, Lubbock, TX. 6. Douglas Valentine, The Phoenix Program (New York: William Morrow, 1990), 942; Elliott, The Vietnamese War, 1:1631:280. 7. Elliott, The Vietnamese War, 1:3501:430. 8. Pike, Viet Cong, 212268; Thayer, ed., A Systems Analysis of the Vietnam War, Vol. X: Pacication and Civil Affairs, 58112. 9. SEATO, Report, The Viet Cong Political Infrastructure in South Vietnam, October 31, 1972, accession no. 2310507002, Vietnam Archive, Lubbock, TX. 10. Ibid.; MACV, RF/PF: Advisors Handbook, January, 1971, accession no. 2171811002. 11. Thayer, ed., A Systems Analysis of the Vietnam War, Vol. IX: Population Security, 151246. 12. J. A. Koche, The Chieu Hoi Program in South Vietnam, Washington, DC, Advanced Research Projects Agency, January 1973, p.20, accession no. 2171412002, Vietnam Archive, Lubbock, Texas. 13. Ibid., 21. 14. Ibid., 5988. 15. Michael E. Latham, Modernization as Ideology: American Social Science and Nation Building during the Kennedy Era (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000), 151208. 16. U.S. Embassy, Vietnam, The Way of the Free, Viet-Nam Bulletin, VietNam Info Series 37 Elections, Local (1070) 24, Saigon, Vietnam, Vietnam Archive, Lubbock, TX. 17. C.I.A., Outlook for the August 28, 1971, Lower House Election in South Vietnam, Saigon, August 1971, Vietnam Archive, Lubbock, TX.

NOTES

177

18. The American Friends of Vietnam, The Economic Needs of Vietnam, unpublished, March 15, 1957, Vietnam Archive, Lubbock, TX. 19. USAID, U.S. Assistance to South Viet-Nam, 19541975, unpublished, October 14, 1975, p.41, accession no., Vietnam Archive, Lubbock, TX. 20. Roy L. Prosterman, Land Reform in Vietnam, SEADAG Discussion Paper, Asia House, NY, April 24, 1970, Vietnam Archive, Lubbock, TX. 21. Ibid., 15. 22. American Friends of Vietnam, Activities of the Department of Education of the Republic of Vietnam, 19541959, no date, Vietnam Archive, TTU, Lubbock, TX. 23. USAID, Record Enrollment for Secondary Education in Vietnam, Vietnam Feature Service, May 1970, pp.8, 22, Vietnam Virtual Archive, TTU, Lubbock, TX. 24. U.S. Agency for International Development, Decade of Expansion for Higher Education in Vietnam, Vietnam Feature Service, April 1971, pp.11, 41, Vietnam Virtual Archive, TTU, Lubbock, TX. 25. Walter Reed Army Medical Institute, The Republic of Viet-Nam, Health Data Publications, November 1963 (Washington, DC: Walter Reed Army Hospital, 1963) passim, Vietnam Archive, TTU, Lubbock, TX. 26. Cited in Accession List No. 28, Vietnam Research and Evaluation Center, unpublished, p.7, Vietnam Archive, TTU, Lubbock, TX. 27. American Friends of Vietnam, Health Achievements in the Republic of Vietnam Since 1954, p.7, unpublished, 1959, Vietnam Archive, TTU, Lubbock, TX; USAID, Report to the Ambassador 1972, Saigon, 1973, pp.3134, Vietnam Archive, TTU, Lubbock, TX. 28. Lewis Sorley, ed., Vietnam Chronicles, The Abram Tapes, 19681972 (Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 2004), 142. CHAPTER 7: PROPAGANDA AND RHETORIC 1. CIA, Memorandum, Cooper to McCone, Washington, December 6, 1963, FRUS: Vietnam, AugustDecember 1963, doc. 349; Defense Department, Report on the Situation in Long An Province, Saigon, December 20, 1963, FRUS: Vietnam, AugustDecember 1963, doc. 369. 2. Lyndon Johnson, Radio and Television Report to the American People Following Renewed Aggression in the Gulf of Tonkin, August 4, 1964; Lyndon Johnson, Address at Johns Hopkins University: Peace Without Conquest. April 7, 1965; Lyndon Johnson, The Presidents News Conference of July 28, 1965. All three are available at www.presidency.ucsb.edu/index.php. 3. Pike, Viet Cong, 247. 4. Ibid., 246252; Elliot, The Vietnamese War, 952965, 12111288. 5. Defense Department, Memorandum, McNaughton to McNamara, March 24, 1965, in Pentagon Papers, 3:6943:695. 6. U.S. House, Committee on Foreign Affairs, Hearings, American Prisoners of War in Southeast Asia, 1970, April 28, May 16, 1970, 91st Cong., 2nd Sess. (Washington, DC: GPO, 1970).

178

NOTES

7. JCS, JCSM-221-68, JCS to Secretary of Defense (Clifford), Washington, April 10, 1968, FRUS, 19641968, vol. X: National Security Policy, doc. 202, at www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/johnsonlb/x/9101.htm; NSC, National Security Action Memorandum (NSSM) One, March 1, 1969, The Situation in Vietnam, Part 2, p.2, accession no. 2120107001, Vietnam Archive. 8. Wells, The War Within, 195222; Jeremy Varon, Bringing the War Home: The Weather Underground, the Red Army Faction, and Revolutionary Violence in the Sixties and Seventies (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004), 74150. 9. Noam Chomsky, At War with Asia (New York: Pantheon Books, 1970) and American Power and the New Mandarins (New York: Vintage Books, 1969); Howard Zinn, Vietnam, the Logic of Withdrawal (Boston: Beacon Press, 1967); Ralph Stavins, Richard J. Barnet, and Marcus G. Raskin, Washington Plans an Aggressive War (New York: Random House, 1971); Marcus G. Raskin and Bernard Fall, eds., The Vietnam Reader, Articles and Documents on American Foreign Policy and the Viet-Nam Crisis (New York: Vintage Books, 1965); Gabriel Kolko, Anatomy of a War: Vietnam, the United States and the Modern Historical Experience (New York: Pantheon Books, 1985). 10. Quoted in Nicholas Kozloff, Vietnam, the African American Community and the Pittsburgh New Courier, The Historian 63(3) (2001): 521. 11. Swedish Comment Brings U.S. Protest, New York Times, December 26, 1972, 12; Premier of Sweden Says Hell Continue to Criticize the U.S., New York Times, December 30, 1972, 5; Myerowitz and Campbell, Vietnam Veterans and War Crime Hearings, in Give Peace a Chance, Exploring the Vietnam Anti-war Movement, ed. Melvin Small and William D. Hoover (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1992) 129140; Eric Norden, American Atrocities in Vietnam; Richard A. Falk, Gabriel Kolko and Robert Jay Lifton, eds., Crimes of War: A Legal, Political-Documentary, and Psychological Inquiry into the Responsibility of Leaders, Citizens, and Soldiers for Criminal Acts in Wars (New York: Random House, 1971), 265284. 12. Barry Weisberg, ed., Ecocide in Indochina, The Ecology of War (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1970); J. B. Neilands et al., Harvest of Death, Chemical Warfare in Vietnam and Cambodia (New York: Free Press, 1972). 13. Richard Falk, Six Legal Dimensions of the United States Involvement in the Vietnam War, in The Vietnam War and International Law, ed. Richard A. Falk, 4 vols. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1968), 2:2162:250. 14. MACV, Telegram, Westmoreland to Wheeler, Saigon, February 9, 1968, 1633Z, FRUS, 19641968, vol. VI: Vietnam, JanuaryAugust 1968, doc. 63, at www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/johnsonlb/vi/13691.htm; NSC, Notes of a Meeting, Washington, February 27, 1968, FRUS, 19641968, vol. VI, doc. 89; JCS, Memorandum, Wheeler to LBJ, Washington, February 27, 1968, FRUS, 19641968, vol. VI, doc. 90; JCS, Report, Analysis of COMUSMACV Force Requirements and Alternatives, March 1, 1968, FRUS, 19641968, vol. VI, doc. 96; Gibbons, The U.S. Government and the Vietnam War, 4:6074:664. 15. Gibbons, The U.S. Government and the Vietnam War, 264265. 16. Scott, The Politics of Readjustment, 2763; R. A. Kulka, W. E. Schlenger,

NOTES

179

J. A. Fairbank, et al., Trauma and the Vietnam War Generation (New York: Brunner & Mazel, 1990); David Marlowe, Psychological and Psychosocial Consequences of Combat and Deployment: With Special Emphasis on the Gulf War (Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corporation, 2001), 90114. 17. Philip Slater, The Pursuit of Loneliness, American Culture at the Breaking Point (Boston: Beacon Press, 1970); Wini Breines, Observation: Sixties Stories Silences White Feminism, Black Feminism, Black Power, NWSA Journal 8:1108:131(1996); Kirkpatrick Sale, SDS (New York: Vintage Books, 1974), 455658; Edward P. Morgan, The 60s Experience: Hard Lessons about Modern America (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1991), 127214. 18. Schwab, Defending the Free World, 100104; Gibbons, The U.S. Government and the Vietnam War, 2:3162:333. 19. Dean Rusk, Address by Secretary Rusk, made before the American Society of International Law on April 23, 1965, The Control of Force in International Relations, in Pentagon Papers, 3:7333:736. 20. Schwab, Defending the Free World, 198202. 21. Robert Dallek, Flawed Giant: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 19611973 (New York: Oxford University, 1998), 494530; Larry Berman, Lyndon Johnsons War: The Road to Stalemate in Vietnam (New York: W.W. Norton, 1991), 176204. 22. William M. Hammond, The U.S. Army in Vietnam, Public Affairs, The Military and the Media, 19681973 (Washington, DC: Center for Military History, 1996), 147169; William V. Shannon, Vietnam Issue: A Time for Fence Sitting, New York Times, May 19, 1968. 23. Chester Cooper, Report R-185A, The American Experience with Pacication in Vietnam, Volume 3: History of Pacication (Springeld, VA: Institute for Defense Analyses, 1972), 324325 in Carrs Compendium; Woodruff, Unheralded Victory, 165168. 24. Jack Anderson, Nixon Now Facing Grimmest Crisis, Washington Post, May 2, 1970; Campus Crisis, Widening War, Deaths at Kent State Produce Turmoil at Universities, Wall Street Journal, May 6, 1970; Arlen J. Large, Cambodian Sequel, Invasion May Shorten the War but Maybe Not in Way Nixon Intended, Wall Street Journal, May 7, 1970; Robert Jay Lifton, The American as Blind Giant Unable to See What It Kills, New York Times, June 14, 1970. 25. Kissinger, Ending the Vietnam War, 8186. 26. Quoted in Richard F. Grimmett, CRS Report for Congress, Congressional Use of Funding Cutoffs Since 1970 Involving U.S. Military Forces and Overseas Deployments, January 10, 2001, p.2, Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress; Wilbanks, Abandoning Vietnam, 195. CHAPTER 8: CONTINUITY 1. Sharp, Strategy for Defeat, 267270; Woodruff, Unheralded Victory, 289291; Summers, On Strategy, 18. 2. Gerald Ford, Address Before a Joint Session of the Congress Reporting on

180

NOTES

United States Foreign Policy, April 10, 1975, Public Papers of the President, at www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index. 3. Karl D. Jackson, The Ideology of Total Revolution, in Cambodia 19751978: Rendezvous with Death, ed. Karl D. Jackson (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989), 3738; Kenneth M. Quinn, The Pattern and Scope of Violence, in Jackson, Cambodia 179208; David Chandler, Voices from S-21: Terror and History in Pol Pots Secret Prison (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999). 4. For antiwar sentiments in memoirs of senior ofcials see George W. Ball, The Past Has Another Pattern: Memoirs (New York: W. W. Norton, 1982); Hubert H. Humphrey, The Education of a Public Man: My Life and Politics (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1976); Clark Clifford and Richard J. Holbrooke, Counsel to the President: A Memoir (New York: Random House, 1991). 5. Peter Novick, That Noble Dream: The Objectivity Question and the American Historical Profession (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 415573; Bruce Cumings, Parallax Visions, Making Sense of East-Asian Relations (London: Duke University Press, 1999); Schwab, Redeemer Nation, 287295. 6. Studies of the mass media and the Vietnam War have shown far less critical bias against the U.S. government than had been believed. However, the effect of the media coverage of the war was cumulative. Hammond, The Military and the Media, 19681973, 617637. 7. The cultural literature on the Vietnam War is rich and growing. See Tobey C. Herzog, Vietnam War Stories: Innocence Lost (New York: Routledge, 1992); Katherine Kinney, Friendly Fire: American Images of the Vietnam War (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001); Don Ringnalda, Fighting and Writing the Vietnam War (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1994); Lloyd B. Lewis, The Tainted War: Culture and Identity in Vietnam War Narratives (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1985); Michael Anderegg, Inventing Vietnam: The War in Film and Television (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1991); Jim Neilson, Warring Fictions: American Literary Culture and the Vietnam War Narrative (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1998). 8. Anderegg, Inventing Vietnam, 5680. Anderegg compares two preeminent early Vietnam War lms, The Deer Hunter and Apocalypse Now, which he described as formulaic but very representative of American culture in their use of extreme experience revealing basic cultural contradictions and conicts (78). 9. Richard Kulka et al., Trauma and the Vietnam War Generation: Report of Findings from the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study (New York: Brunner & Mazel, 1990); Kathleen B. Jordan, William Schlenger et al., Lifetime and Current Prevalence of Specic Psychiatric Disorders among Vietnam Veterans and Controls, Archives of General Psychiatry 48(1991): 207215. 10. Lawrence B. Radine, The Taming of the Troops: Social Control in the United States Army (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1973), 3142; Robert K. Grifth, The U.S. Armys Transition to the All-Volunteer Force, 19681974 (Washington, DC: Center for Military History, 1996).

NOTES

181

11. Richard H. Kohn, Out of Control: The Crisis in Civil-Military Relations, The National Interest 35 (Spring 1994); Gregory Foster, Failed Expectations: The Crisis of Civil-Military Relations in America, Brookings Review 15 (Fall 1997); A. J. Bacevich, Tradition Abandoned, The National Interest 48 (Summer 1997); John Allen Williams, The Military and Modern Society: Civilian-Military Relations in Post-Cold War America, World and I 14:9 (September 1999): 306. 12. Jimmy Carter, Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President (New York: Collins, 1982), 308. 13. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Power and Principle: Memoirs of the National Security Adviser, 19771981 (New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1983), 426470; Richard Thornton, The Carter Years: Toward a New Global Order (New York: Paragon, 1991), 356545. 14. Steven Kull, Minds at War: Nuclear Reality and the Inner Conicts of Defense Policymakers (New York: Basic Books, 1998), 47155; Richard Ned Lebow and Janice Gross Stein, We All Lost the Cold War (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), 348368. 15. Michael R. Gordon and General Bernard E. Trainor, The Generals War: The Inside Story of the Conict in the Gulf (New York: Little, Brown, 1995), 130131. 16. Anthony Cordesman, The Iraq War, Strategy, Tactics, and the Military Lessons (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003), 475516. 17. Sharp, Strategy for Defeat, 270. 18. Robert M. Cassidy, Prophets or Praetorians? The Uptonian Paradox and the Powell Corollary, Parameters 33 (Autumn 2003): 130143. For a ne overview of the Gulf War, see William Head and Earl H. Telford, eds., The Eagle in the Desert: Looking Back on U.S. Involvement in the Persian Gulf War (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1996). 19. James Mann, Rise of the Vulcans, The History of Bushs War Cabinet (New York: Viking, 2004), 165372. 20. Roger W. Barnett, Asymmetrical Warfare: Todays Challenge to US Military Power (Washington, DC: Brasseys, 2003); Melissa A. Applegate, Preparing for Asymmetry: As Seen Through the Lens of Joint Vision 2020 (Carlisle Barracks, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, 2001), at www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/ ssi/preparing.pdf; David E. Brigham, The Global War on Terrorism: War or Counterinsurgency? (Newport, RI: Naval War College, February 2004), at http://handle.dtic.mil/100.2/ADA22704.

Selected Bibliography
PRIMARY SOURCES AND UNPUBLISHED DOCUMENTS Foreign Relations of the United States, at http://www.state.gov/www/ about_state/history/frusonline.html Kennedy Administration 19611963, Volume I: Vietnam, 1961 19611963, Volume II: Vietnam, 1962 19611963, Volume III: Vietnam, JanuaryAugust 1963 19611963, Volume IV: Vietnam, SeptemberDecember 1963 Johnson Administration 19641968, Volume I: Vietnam, 1964 19641968, Volume II: Vietnam, January through June 1965 19641968, Volume III: Vietnam, July through December 1965 19641968, Volume IV: Vietnam, 1966 19641968, Volume V: Vietnam, 1967 19641968, Volume VI: Vietnam, JanuaryAugust 1968 19641968, Volume VII: Vietnam, September 1968January 1969 19641968, Volume X: National Security Policy Nixon Administration 19691976, Volume I: Foundations of Foreign Policy

184

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Carrs Compendium of the Vietnam War (2003 DCB Software Testing) A Study of Lessons Learned in Vietnam A Systems Analysis of the Vietnam War 19651972 Defense Attache Saigon: RVNAF Quarterly Assessments MACV Command Histories 19641973 (Santized) http://www.Paperlessarchives.com (CD collections) Vietnam War CIA Files Vietnam War after Action-Lessons Learned Reports Vietnam War Air Force History Vietnam War Joint Chiefs of Staff History 19401973 Vietnam War Air Force History Volumes The Vietnam Virtual Archive, Texas Tech University, Lubbock at http:// www.vietnam.ttu.edu The Pentagon Papers, Senator Gravel Edition, The Defense Department History of Decisionmaking on Vietnam, ve volumes (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971). BOOKS Acheson, Dean. Present at the Creation: My Years at the State Department. New York: W. W. Norton, 1969. Bennedetti, Charles. An American Ordeal: The Antiwar Movement of the Vietnam Era. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1990. Berman, Larry. No Peace, No Honor: Nixon, Kissinger and Betrayal in Vietnam. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002. Berman, William. William Fulbright and the Vietnam War, the Dissent of a Political Realist. Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1988. Burkett, B. G., and Glenna Whitley. Stolen Valor: How the Vietnam Generation Was Robbed of Its Heroes and Its History. New York: Verity Press, 1998. Buttinger, Joseph. Vietnam: A Dragon Embattled, Volume I: From Colonialism to the Viet Minh. New York: Praeger, 1967. Buzzanco, Robert. Masters of War, Military Dissent and Politics in the Vietnam War Era. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996. Chomsky, Noam. At War with Asia. New York: Pantheon Books, 1970. Clarke, Jeffrey J. Advice and Support: The Final Years, 19651973. Washington, DC: Center of Military History, United States Army, 1988. Colby, William. Lost Victory: A Firsthand Account of Americas Sixteen Year Involvement in Vietnam. Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1989. Currey, Cecil B. Edward Lansdale, the Unquiet American. Boston: Houghton Mifin, 1988. Duiker, William J. The Communist Road to Power in Vietnam. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1996.

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Egendorf, Arthur. Healing from the War, Trauma and Transformation after Vietnam. Boston: Houghton Mifin, 1985. Elliot, David. Revolution and Change in the Mekong Delta, 19301975. 2 vols. London: M.E. Sharpe, 2003. Ellsberg, Daniel. Secrets, A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers. New York: Viking, 2002. Falk, Richard A., Gabriel Kolko and Robert Jay Lifton, eds. Crimes of War: A Legal, Political-Documentary, and Psychological Inquiry into the Responsibility of Leaders, Citizens, and Soldiers for Criminal Acts in Wars. New York: Random House, 1971. Fulbright, William J. The Arrogance of Power. New York: Random House, 1966. Gerald C. Hickey. Shattered World: Adaptation and Survival among Vietnams Highland Peoples during the Vietnam War. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993. Gibbons, William Conrad. The U.S. Government and the Vietnam War, Executive and Legislative Roles and Relationships, Part I: 19451960. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986. Gibbons, William Conrad. The U.S. Government and the Vietnam War, Executive and Legislative Roles and Relationships, Part II: 1961December 1964. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988. Gibbons, William Conrad. The U.S. Government and the Vietnam War, Executive and Legislative Roles and Relationships, Part III: JanuaryJuly 1965. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990. Gibbons, William Conrad. The U.S. Government and the Vietnam War, Executive and Legislative Roles and Relationships, Part IV: July 1965January 1968. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995. Gibson, James William. The Perfect War: Technowar in Vietnam. Boston: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1986. Goldberg, Robert Alan. Barry Goldwater. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995. Goldwater, Barry M., and Jack Casserly. Goldwater. New York: Doubleday, 1988. Gordon, Michael R., and General Bernard E. Trainor. The Generals War: The Inside Story of the Conict in the Gulf. New York: Little, Brown, 1995. Hammond, William M. The U.S. Army in Vietnam, Public Affairs: The Military and the Media, 19681973. Washington, DC: Center for Military History, 1996. Hogan, Michael. A Cross of Iron, Harry S. Truman and the Origins of the National Security State, 19451954. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998. Hung, Nguyen Tien, and Jerrold L. Schecter. Palace File. New York: Harper & Row, 1986. Jackson, Karl D., ed. Rendezvous with Death. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989.

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Johnson, Robert David. Ernst Gruening and the American Dissenting Tradition. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998. Kelly, Francis J. U.S. Army Special Forces 19611971. Washington, DC: Department of the Army, 1973. Kimball, Jeffrey. Nixons Vietnam War. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1998. Kissinger, Henry. Ending the Vietnam War, A History of Americas Involvement in and Extrication from the Vietnam War. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003. Marr, David G. Vietnamese Anti-Colonialism, 18851925. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971. Marr, David G. Vietnam 1945: The Quest for Power. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995. McGarrigle, George. The U.S. Army in Vietnam, Combat Operations, Taking the Offensive, October 1966 to October 1967. Washington, DC: Center of Military History, 1998. McMaster, H. R. Dereliction of Duty, Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, The Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997. McPherson, Myra. Long Time Passing: Vietnam and the Haunted Generation. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985. Military Institute of Vietnam. Victory in Vietnam: The Ofcial History of the Peoples Army of Vietnam, 19541975. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 2002. Momyer, General William W. Airpower in Three Wars. Maxwell AFB, AL: Air University Press, 2003. Mrozek, Donald. Air Power and the Ground War in Vietnam: Ideas and Actions. Maxwell AFB, AL: Air University Press, 1988. Oberdorfer, Don. Tet! The Turning Point in the Vietnam War. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1971. Pike, Douglas. Viet Cong, The Organization and Techniques of the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1966. Polner, Murray. No Victory Parades: The Return of the Vietnam Veteran. New York: Holt Rhinehart & Winston, 1971. Reeves, Richard. President Nixon: Alone in the White House. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001. Schwab, Orrin. Defending the Free World: John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and the Vietnam War, 19611965. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1998. Schwab, Orrin. Redeemer Nation: America and the World in the Technocratic Age, 1914 to the present. Salt Lake, UT: American Book Publishing, 2004. Sharp, Grant (U.S. Admiral). Strategy for Defeat, Vietnam in Retrospect. Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1978. Sheehan, Neil. A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam. New York: Random House, 1988.

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Sorley, Lewis. A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of Americas Last Years in Vietnam. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1999. Spector, Ronald. The United States Army in Vietnam: Advice and Support, The Early Years. Washington, DC: Center of Military History, 1985. Stacewicz, Richard. Winter Soldiers: An Oral History of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1997. Stanton, Shelby. The Rise and Fall of an American Army: U.S. Ground Forces in Vietnam, 19651973. Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1985. Summers, Harry G., Jr. On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War. New York: Ballantine Books, 1995. Taylor, Keith Weller. The Birth of Vietnam. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983. Tonnesson, Stein. The Vietnamese Revolution of 1945: Roosevelt, Ho Chi Minh and De Gaulle in a World at War. London: Sage Publications, 1991. Varon, Jeremy. Bringing the War Home: The Weather Underground, the Red Army Faction, and Revolutionary Violence in the Sixties and Seventies. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004. Weisberg, Barry, ed. Ecocide in Indochina: The Ecology of War. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1970. Wells, Tom. The War Within: Americas Battle Over Vietnam. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995. Westmoreland, William C. A Soldier Reports. New York: Plenum Press, 1976. Wilbanks, James. Abandoning Vietnam: How America Left and South Vietnam Lost Its War. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 2004. Woodruff, Mark W. Unheralded Victory: The Defeat of the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army, 19611973. Arlington, VA: Vandemere Press, 1999.

Index
Abrams, Creighton, 43, 93, 122 Acheson, Dean, 1, 5, 12, 163n23 Afghan War, 143, 152, 155159 AID (United States Agency for International Development), 117119, 121122 Antiwar movement, 46, 48, 50, 5253, 56, 60, 74, 8586, 9496, 100, 124; broad effects of, 130138, 142, 147149, 152 Army of North Vietnam. See PAVN (Peoples Army of Vietnam). ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam), 1922; development of, 75; Diem Coup, 23, 26, 2830; ineffectiveness of, 4546, 4950, 54, 5758, 6768, 7172; pacication of, 76, 8082, 93, 95, 98, 102, 110, 112113, 126, 128, 139 Balkans War, 156 Cambodia, 2, 3, 7, 37, 39, 44, 46, 64, 76; fall of, 101102, 107; invasion of, 7778, 91, 9697, 99, 140142; secret bombing of, 134135, 145146 Chieu Hoi (Open Arms Program), 112113 China (Peoples Republic of China), 2, 4; and dialogue with U.S., 99, 102, 118, 122, 129, 132, 137, 144145; post-Vietnam War, 153; and recognition of Vietnam, 6, 7, 18; U.S. fear of land war with, 25, 31, 40, 5152, 61, 74, 78, 8082, 9091 Christmas Bombing (1972), 97, 134 CI (Counterinsurgency), British model of, 20; dissent from ground war, 8889, 91, 96, 103, 112, 121; doctrine of, 5660; Johnson administration, 2526; Kennedy administration, 2024; Marine Corps concept of, 33, 40, 46, 48, 5051; and minority groups in central highlands, 54, 106109; and potential for victory, 155158; in relation to pacication, 7677, 82

190
CIA (Central Intelligence Agency), origins of, 10, 28, 3536, 44, 51, 57, 69, 91, 109, 111, 141, 162n18 CIDG (Civilian Irregular Defense Group), 54, 108 CINCPAC (Commander in Chief, Pacic), 13, 19, 31, 4344, 86, 145, 156 Clausewitz, Carl Von, 1314, 55, 71, 9293, 160 Clausewitzian theory of war, 1314, 17, 28, 33, 3536, 39, 52, 64, 80, 8687, 92, 157 COMUSMACV (Commander, United States Military Assistance Command Vietnam), 73 CORDS (Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Services), 110112, 119, 122 De Gaulle, Charles, 3, 5 Dellums, Ronald, 134 DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency), 10, 162n18 Diem, Ngo Dinh, 19, fall and assassination, 2326 Diem Regime, fall of, 2026, 51, 55, 109, 114, 117118, 126, 130 DMZ (demilitarized zone), 17th parallel, 29, 39, 81, 97 DOD (Department of Defense), 10, 26, 37, 76, 87, 91, 130 Domino theory, 78, 99100, 107, 114, 129130, 139, 142, 163n14 DRV (Democratic Republic of Vietnam), 2425, 30, 3435, 37, 39, 44, 46, 4950, 53, 58, 72, 78, 8082, 85, 8889, 91, 9798, 100101, 106, 110, 119, 122, 135, 137138, 142, 145. Easter Offensive (1972), 7980 Ecocide, 131, 134135 Eisenhower, Dwight D., 67, 9, 17, 36, 86; administration of, 6, 910,

INDEX 13, 17, 89, 114, 116; and domino theory, 7, 114, 129; and military industrial complex, 125, 127, 129, 158 Ford Administration, 14, 47, 63, 86, 101102, 124, 146, 151 Ford, Gerald R., 2, 36, 102, 146, 151 Fulbright Hearings, 6770, 78, 9596, 132, 137, 147 Genocide, 53, 81, 96, 102, 131, 133134, 146 Giap, Vo Nguyen, 6, 65, 79, 1704n Goldwater, Barry M., 11, 36, 86, 163n20 GVN (Government of Vietnam). See South Vietnam (Republic of Vietnam). Gulf of Tonkin incident, 2528, 35, 44, 89, 118, 127, 138; as propaganda, 123, 138139; resolution of, 2528, 102 Harkins, Paul, 19, 22, 24, 43 Harriman, Averrill, 17, 24, 72 Hmong (Laos), 146 Ho Chi Minh Trail, 24, 49, 81, 85, 91, 97, 99, 106, 140 ICA (International Cooperation Administration), 117 JCS (Joint Chiefs of Staff), 9, 95, 98, 108, 115116, 130, 137, 141, 145, 154, 156, 58, 164n2, 166n26, 170n1; and Gulf of Tonkin, 28, 29; and Laos, 1718, 21, 25, 27; and strategic dissent, 8693; strategic views of, 31, 3539, 4346, 53, 6364, 66; and Tet offensive, 72, 74, 80 Johnson Administration, 20; transition into, 2528, 31, 34, 3839, 44, 6667, 70, 72, 89,

INDEX 9192, 100, 109, 126, 135136, 138, 147 Johnson, Lyndon B. (LBJ), 1011; at odds with JCS, 18, 25, 2728, 38, 47, 63, 66, 7172, principles of war, 923, 127, 130, 137 Kennedy Administration, 10, 14; Vietnam policy of, 1722, 24, 27, 63, 80, 86, 106, 109, 126, 136, 141, 162n18, 164n4 Kennedy, John F. (JFK), 7, 17; and Diem coup, 2325, 90, 107, 127; at odds with JCS, 18 Kerry, John, 94 Khanh, Nguyen, 26 Khymer Rouge, 101102, 146147 Kissinger, Henry, 2, 29, 74, 79, 94, 97102, 136; and inuence on Vietnam policy, 141146, 174n15, 176n3 Krulak, Victor, 23, 165n11 Land reform, 117119 Lansdale, Edward G., 2122, 88, 106, 108 Laos, 23, 7; convert operations of, 107108, 124, 134, 141142, 145146, 164n2, 172n38; and Laotian crisis, 13, 1718, 39, 44, 46, 64, 74; loss of sanctuaries, 101102; sanctuaries of, 7679, 91, 9599 LeMay, Curtis E., 18, 34, 80, 86, 164n2, 170n1, 172n38 Lemnitzer, Lyman, 1819, 21, 164n4; and policy dissent, 8690 Linebacker I and II raids, 8081 MAAG (Military Assistance Advisory Group), 19, 43, 45, 75 MACV (Military Assistance Command, Vietnam), 13; creation and design of, 1920, 22, 24; deployments of, 2832, 35; end of,

191
98, 101, 108, 111112; organization of, 435, 556, 67, 6970; and relationship with CI program, 114115, 119, 122, 126127, 130, 141, 145, 172n24; and Tet Offensive, 72, 7478, 82; and Vietnamization, 9193 Malay Polynesian tribes, 48, 54, 107 Managerial Internationalism, 38; denition of, 64, 68 Manseld, Mike, 18, 40, 137 Mao, Zedong, 6, 153 McGovern, George, 78, 137, 147 McNamara, Robert S., 24, 26, 30, 66, 72, 8788, 164n2 Military realism, 18, 25 Minh, Doug Van (Big Minh), 24, 26 Minh, Ho Chi, 36, 27, 51, 53, 65, 81 Munich Syndrome (analogy), denition of, 1113, 163n22, 163n24, 170n1 NFLSVN (National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam), and antiwar movements views, 135, 142; and Chieu Hoi, 13, 115, 118, 127; defeat of, 7677, 7980, 82, 86, 95, 99; and fall of Saigon, 102, 106; growth of, 2832, 39; and Johnson administration, 4553, 5557, 6970; origins of, 2023; and Phoenix program, 108112; and Tet Offensive, 73; under Diem, 2627 National Security Council (NSC), 10, 23, 35; civilian view of, 3637, 39, 64, 88, 90, 159 New York Times, 87, 98, 111, 139140 Nixon Administration, 7, 34, 46, 5657; and Cambodian invasion, 77; and Clausewitzian doctrine, 80, 81; covert operations of, 107; and domino theory, 107; and end of

192
draft, 152; and end of war, 98100; and nation-building, 113, 134, 136, 141142, 145; operations of, 7475; precarious state of, 8586, 94, 96; size of antiwar movement, 147 Nixon, Richard M., 13, 3536, 40; de-escalation, 46, 47; and Easter Offensive, 79; election of, 64; exit strategy of, 9394, 97, 99100, 107; and Linebacker I, 80; and Linebacker II, 81; and mining of Haiphong, 45; operations of, 7375; peace with, 129, 136, 141, 145, 176n3; rules of engagement, 44; withdrawal plan of, 77 North Vietnam. See DRV (Democratic Republic of Vietnam).

INDEX PRC (Peoples Republic of China). See China. Psychiatric casualties, 48, 5960; post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), 150151, 180 PTSD (Post-traumatic stress syndrome). See psychiatric casualties. Regional Forces (RF), South Vietnam, 70, 130 Republic of Vietnam (RVN). See South Vietnam (Republic of Vietnam). Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces (RVNAF), 43, 57, 67; defeat of, 9799; development of, 7476; and Easter Offensive 79, 81; and fall of South Vietnam, 82, 86, 93, 101102, 115, 121122, 130 Roosevelt, Franklin (FDR), 4 Russell, Richard, 38, 137 Saigon. See South Vietnam (Republic of Vietnam). SEATO (Southeast Asian Treaty Organization), 88, 139 Sharp, Ulysses S., 31, 35, 52, 86, 90, 156 South Vietnam (Republic of Vietnam), 2, 8, 12; alternative means, 106122; denouement of, 85103; and development of the RVNAF, 7576; and Diem period, 1824; and Easter Offensive, 7982; and escalation of the war, 4354, 57, 61, 6667; and fall of South Vietnam, 141146; and intervention period, 2840; and the Nixon administration, 74; and pacication, 7677; and propaganda, 126142; transition to Johnson administration, 2527 Soviet Union (USSR), containment of, 48, 18, 24, 40, 51, 61, 65, 74, 78;

Paris Peace Accords (1973), 51, 73,4, 80, 82; after signing, 97100, 142 PAVN (Peoples Army of Vietnam), 29, 31, 39, 4445, 4952, 4647, 61, 6770; and CI war against, 107109, 112113, 122, 128, 130, 136, 139; and fall of South Vietnam, 101102, 106; and Tet Offensive, 7273, 76, 7982, 85, 93, 9799 Phoenix Program, 51, 57, 74, 108, 110113, 121, 134, 140 PLA (Peoples Liberation Army), 44, 50, 5657, 61, 67, 71, 72, 76, 8182, 85, 101, 139. See also Viet Cong; NFLSVN. Pnomh Penh. See Cambodia. Political realism, 52 Pol Pot, 146147 Popular Forces (PF), South Vietnam, 75, 113 Powell, Colin, Gulf War views of, 154157 POW (prisoners of war), 27, 94, 97, 129, 146, 158

INDEX and Nixon administration, 8083, 9091, 97, 99100, 122, 129, 132, 137, 144, 146; and post-Vietnam era, 153154 Strategic Hamlet Program, 2026, 109, 126 Tet Offensive (1968), 39, 50, 65, 7173, 82, 94, 106, 124, 127, 139140, 168n12 Thailand, 7, 60, 70, 130, 164n2 Thieu, Nguyen Vann, 79, 9798, 115116 Truman administration, 10, 12, 31, 43, 45, 89, 162n14 Truman, Harry S., 5, 7, 12 United States Air Force (USAF), 8, 13, 1819, 32; doctrine of, 34, 35, 44, 49, 71, 75, 8081, 9192, 100 United States Army (USA). See MACV. United States Marine Corps (USMC), 30, 32; clear and hold, 68, 92; tactical doctrine of, 33, 35, 48 United States Navy (USN), 89, 13, 18, 32; tactical doctrine of, 35, 39, 71, 80, 9192, 94, 102, 153 Viet Cong (VC), 13, 19; defeat of, 7071, 7576; growth of, 2224,

193
28, 33; ineffectiveness of, 82, 88, 9293, 9596, 106, 108, 112; organization of, 48, 50, 5254, 5758, 65; strength of, 6769; terror and assassinations, 125128, 133134, 136, 140, 168n10, 170n4, 174n18; and use of terror, 118119, 122 Viet Cong Infrastructure (VCI), 49, 51; intelligence estimate of, 69, 77, 85, 89, 96, 106, 109110, 113, 119, 121 Viet Minh, 6, 109, 118 Vietnam, history of, 2, 21, 49, 51, 6566, 18, 110, 161n3 Vietnamization, critique of, 9394, 98, 103; history of, 7376, 79; and nation-building, 113, 121, 140, 174n15; purpose of, 46 VVAW (Vietnam Veterans Against the War), 94 Wall Street Journal, 78, 140 Washington Post, 98, 111, 139 Westmoreland, William S., 50, 56; and troop requests, 6667, 7072, 93, 136 Wheeler, James Earle, 29, 37, 72, 9394 Wilsonian Internationalism (neoWilsonianism), 39, 141

About the Author ORRIN SCHWAB a visiting scholar at the University of Chicago, is the author of Defending the Free World: John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and the Vietnam War, 19611965 (Praeger, 1998). He has taught at Purdue University Calumet and the University of Chicago.

Recent Titles in In War and in Peace: U.S. Civil-Military Relations Military Necessity: Civil-Military Relations in the Confederacy Paul D. Escott Civil-Military Relations on the Frontier and Beyond, 18651917 Charles A. Byler