Kennedy orders initial troops to Vietnam

The Pentagon Papers (Part V B4 Justification of the War (11 Vols) Internal Documents (9 Vols) The Kennedy Administration: (2 Vols) Book I reveal President Kennedy ordering initial troops to Vietnam in a secret communication to Secretary of State Dean Rusk:
Kennedy orders initial phase of Vietnam war
Despite Diem rejecting Kennedy’s recent recommendations to reform internal government, economic and military policies. We simply backed the only anti-communist government in Saigon. And IMHO the date of this order is eye catching.

Kennedy dispatched Galbraith to meet Diem

John Kenneth Galbraith was a widely recognized economist. He was an advisor to President Kennedy who named him US Ambassador to India. In 1961 Kennedy dispatched Galbraith to meet Diem, study his political and military environment in South Vietnam and seek confirmation from Diem regarding Kennedy’s recent recommendations to reshape his government and military.

Pentagon PapersGalbraith issued a long, private cable to President Kennedy on November 21, 1961 upon his return from Vietnam.

This cable is part of The Pentagon-Papers, Volume V, B4, Book-I.  Galbraith provided a foretelling warning for America. Galbraith’s advice to Kennedy: Drop Diem.  

The South Vietnamese desperately needed radical changes to their government, military & economy in order to turn their overall war effort against the North and Viet Cong.

But it did not make the type of impact with JFK and his administration as maybe he had hoped.  Kennedy followed Eisenhower and Truman in not heeding the advice from their military, policy advisors and diplomatic corps.

Date: 21 NOV 61
From: New Delhi
FOR THE PRESIDENT
POLICY IN VIETNAM
FROM JOHN KENNETH GALBRAITH

5. A MAXIMUM OF 18,000 LIGHTLY ARMED MEN ARE INVOLVED IN THE INSURRECTION.  THESE ARE GVN ESTIMATES AND THE FACTOR OF EXAGGERATION IS UNQUESTIONABLY CONSIDERABLE.  TEN THOUSAND IS MORE PROBABLY.  WHAT WE HAVE IN OPPOSITION INVOLVES A HEAVY THEOLOGICAL DISPUTE.  DIEM IT IS SAID IS A GREAT BUT DEFAMED LEADER.  IT IS ALSO SAID HE HAS LOST TOUCH WITH THE MASSES, IS IN POLITICAL DISREPUTE AND OTHERWISE NO GOOD.  THIS DEBATE CAN BE BYPASSED BY AGREED POINTS.  IT IS AGREED THAT ADMINISTRATIVELY DIEM IS EXCEEDINGLY BAD.  HE HOLDS FAR TOO MUCH POWER IN HIS OWN HANDS, EMPLOYES HIS ARMY BADLY, HAS NO INTELLIGENCE ORGANIZATION WORTHY OF THE NAME, HAS ARBITRARILY OR INCOMPETENT SUBORDINATES IN THE PROVINCES AND SOME ACHIEVEMENTS NOTWITHSTANDING, HAS A POOR ECONOMIC POLICY.  HE HAS ALSO EFFECTIVELY RESISTED IMPROVEMENT FOR A LONG WHILE IN FACE OF HEAVY DETERIORATION.  THIS IS ENOUGH.  WHETHER HIS POLITICAL POSTURE IS NEPOTIC, DESPOTIC OUT OF TOUCH WITH THE VILLAGERS AND HENCE DAMAGING OR WHETHER THIS DAMAGE IS THE FIGMENT OF SIAGON INTELLECTUALS DOES NOT BEAR ON OUR IMMEDIATE POLICY AND MAY BE PASSED AT LEAST IN PART.

7. THE FUNDAMENTAL DIFFICULTIES IN COUNTERING THE INSURGENCY, APART FROM ABSENCE OF INTELLIGENCE, ARE TWO-FOLD.  FIRST IS THE POOR COMMAND, DEPLOYMENT, TRAINING, MORAL AND OTHER WEAKNESSES OF THE ARMY AND PARAMILITARY FORCES.  AND SECOND WHILE THEY CAN OPERATE —- SWEEP —- THOUGHT ANY PART OF THE COUNTRY AND CLEAR OUT ANY VISIBLE INSURGENTS, THEY CANNOT GUARANTEE SECURITY AFTERWARDS.  THE VIET CONG COMES BACK AND PUTS THE ARM ON ALL WHO HAVE COLLABORATED.  THIS FACT IS VERY IMPORTANT IN RELATION TO REQUESTS FROM AMERICAN MANPOWER.  OUR FORCES WOULD CONDUCT THE ROUND-UP OPERATIONS WHICH THE RVN ARMY CAN ALREADY DO.  WE CAN’T CONCEIVABLY SEND ENOUGH MEN TO PROVIDE SAFETY FOR THE VILLAGES AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR AN EFFECTIVELY TRAINED CIVIL GUARD AND HOME DEFENSE FORCE AND, PERHAPS, A POLITICALLY COOPERATIVE COMMUNITY.

8. THE KEY AND INESCAPABLE POINT, THEN, IS THE INEFFECTUALITY (ABETTED DEBATABLY BY THE UNPOPULARITY) OF THE DIEM GOVERNMENT.  THIS IS THE STRATEGIC FACTOR.  NOR CAN ANYONE ACCEPT THE STATEMENT OF THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN EITHER TOO LONG OR TOO LITTLE IN ASIA THAT HIS IS THE INEVITABLE POSTURE OF THE ASIAN MANDARIN.  FOR ONE THING ISN’T TRUE, BUT WERE IT SO THE ONLY POSSIBLE CONCLUSION WOULD BE THAT THERE IS NO FUTURE FOR MANDARINS.  THE COMMUNISTS DON’T FAVOR THEM.

10. I COME NOW TO POLICY, THE FIRST IN BOX WE ARE IN PARTLY AS THE RESULT OF RECENT MOVES AND SECOND HOW WE GET OUT WITHOUT A TAKEOVER.  WE HAVE JUST PROPOSED TO HELP DIEM IN VARIOUS WAYS IN TERURN FO RA PROMISE OF ADMINISTRATIVE AND POLITICAL REFORMS.  SINCE THE ADMINISTRATIVE (AND POSSIBLY) POLITICAL INEFFECTUALITY ARE THE STRATEGIC FACTORS FOR SUCCESS THE ABILITY TO GET REFORM IS DECISIVE.  WITH THEM THE NEW AID AND GADGETRY WILL BE USEFUL WITHOUT THEM THE HELICOPTERS, PLANES AND ADVISER’S WON’T MAKE APPRECIABLE DIFFERENCE.
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Nixon’s final act of treason revealed

The Atlantic has picked up an article from the BBC who released audio tapes of President Johnson regarding GOP candidate Richard Nixon’s sabotage of the October 1968 Peace talks in Paris regarding Johnson’s bid to end the US involvement in the Vietnam war.

Nixon Johnson
Johnson ordered FBI wiretaps on the GOP’s candidate that actually caught Nixon manipulating the South Vietnamese Government to boost his own Presidential aspirations in coming the November Presidential election.  Those wiretaps caught Nixon dispatching a GOP supporter Anna Chennault to meet with South Vietnamese President Thieu to promise Nixon would offer the South a better deal if he rejected Johnson’s invite to Paris.

The LBJ tapes were initially released in November 2008. History shows us (again) that Nixon was committing treason against the United States.  This release was even picked up by Slate’s Political Gabfest, but gained no real traction in the media.  Simply put – Nixon is dead.
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My Lai massacre 45th anniversary

Saturday marked the 45th anniversary of the My Lai massacre.  LIFE Magazine published online their original coverage of US soldiers murdering 350 old men, women and children in cold blood. This remains a truly horrific atrocity and deep scar on the US Army in Vietnam.

The surprise for many today was the ability of the military to kept this horrific event a secret for over a year.  Former Army photographer Ron Haeberle assigned to “Charlie” Company of 1st Battalion20th Infantry Regiment11th Brigade sold photos he took with a non-US Army issued camera.  LIFE published the photos and the damage further changed the American view on the war in Vietnam.

Amazingly three US servicemen tried to halt the massacre and protect the wounded were initially denounced by several US Congressmen as traitors. They received hate mail and death threats and found mutilated animals on their doorsteps. The three were later widely praised and decorated by the Army for heroic actions.

Robert Kennedy supported US atomic bombing in Laos

The Pentagon Papers include a memorandum with Robert Kennedy on April 29, 1961 regarding a yet-to-be-determined US military position regarding fighting the spread of communism in Laos.

Pentagon PapersRobert Kennedy as the just recently confirmed US Attorney General under his brother and President-elect was a participant to foreign policy planning.  The Kennedy Administration was roughly 90 days old when this memorandum [Part V. B. 4.] Justification of the War. Internal Documents. The Kennedy Administration. Book I (page 93) was recorded.

In attendance was Robert Kennedy, Secretary of Defense McNamara, General Curtis Le May, General David M. Shoup, Admiral Arleigh Burke and McGeorge Bundy among others.

This emerging view is similar to the policy supported during the Eisenhower Administration.  As conveyed in David Halberstam’s The Best and The Brightest, President-elect Kennedy was briefed by Eisenhower that US troops would be fighting communism in SouthEast Asia. The only surprise for John Kennedy (and for most Americans) was Eisenhower’s plans to invade and fight in Laos — not Vietnam.  The memorandum indicates the new administration had yet to decide how to best deal with the growing communist influence in SouthEast Asia:

The Attorney General asked where would be the best place to stand and fight, 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 he major question was whether we would stand up and fight.

Mr. McNamara said that we would have to attack the DRV if we gave up Laos. Mr. McNamara repeated that the situation is now worse than it was five weeks ago. Mr. Steeves pointed out that the same problems existed in South Viet-Nam, but

Admiral Burke thought that South Viet-Nam could be more easily controlled. General Becker then suggested that troops be moved into Thailand and South Viet-Nam to see whether such action would not produce a cease-fire. Admiral Burke asked what happens if there is still no cease-fire. General Decker said then we would be ready to go ahead.  Mr. Kennedy said we would look sillier than we do now if we got troops in there and then backed down. He reiterated the question whether we are ready to go the distance.

It appears the new administration viewed a communist threat in Laos as more severe than Vietnam. Now the issue was containment of communist influence in Asia.  And an even more chilling statement emerged from this meeting regarding Laos:
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