Latest read: None So Blind

Regarded as one of the CIA’s premiere Vietnam intelligence experts George W. Allen wrote a 2001 memoir None So Blind: A personal account of the intelligence failure in Vietnam that remains an alarming insight of intelligence failures that forecasted both France and America’s defeat in Vietnam. Allen’s contributions set the stage regrettably for the Pentagon and White House to also follow France’s misplaced goals for the next twenty-five years.
None So Blind: A personal account of the intelligence failure in VietnamMy interest in Allen’s memoir developed from reading a series of confidential reports by the US military and CIA from the 1950s.

Declassified in the late 1990s the documents address the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu.

Many of those documents point to Allen’s intelligence reports and analysis. Naturally this peaked my wish to better understand the American intelligence analysis of the French defeat.

Allen holds a unique, deep understanding of the Indochina Wars (France 1945-1950) and the coming failure of America’s intervention on behalf of South Vietnam 1960-1974. The lessons in his book leave deep, haunting impressions today on the White House and Pentagon leaders who ignored our intelligence community.
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Pentagon Papers: Vietnam polarization in 1966?

Volume IV C6b of the Pentagon Papers must have been written just before the 1967 New Year.  Ironic that I read this volume during the Christmas holiday and into the first week of 2012.

Pentagon PapersAmerican sentiments to look back and reflect every December are just as striking in this volume.  This is the first volume that acknowledges a growing domestic anti-war sentiment throughout 1966.

Johnson’s troop commitments generated an interesting quote from future President Gerald Ford on page three of this volume: “This event generated a storm of criticism especially from Congressman Gerald Ford who attacked the Administration for expanding operations into the Delta without advising Congress.” Ironic he would serve Nixon as VP (beginning in 1971) and had to confront Nixon’s secret war in Cambodia dating back to 1969.

It must have been considered “strong enough” to influence policies in early 1967. Volume IV C-6-b opens with the examination of key news correspondents, examining the impact of journalists reporting against the war:

Pentagon Papers:  Part IV. C6b: Evolution of the War.
Extracted pages 1-22
1. Hedged Public Optimism Meets the New Year
Harrison Salisbury’s dispatches from North Vietnam were generating an explosive debate about the bombing. Not only had he questioned the “surgical” precision claimed for the bombing of military targets in populated areas, but he questioned the basic purpose of the strategy itself. In his view, civilian casualties were being inflicted deliberately to break the morale of the populace, a course both immoral and doomed to failure. The counter-attack mounted by bombing advocates (and apologists) combined with the predictable quick denunciations and denials from official sources helped generate a significant public reaction. The Pentagon reaction to the Salisbury articles touched off a new round of editorial comment about the credibility gap. Polls at the start of the year reflected the public’s growing cynicism about public statements. One Harris poll indicated that the public of January 1967 was just as likely to blame the United States for truce violations (despite public announcements to the contrary) as the enemy. Two years earlier this had not been so. Salisbury happened to be in North Vietnam when Hanoi was first bombed — whether by accident or design is uncertain. Consequently, his dispatches carried added sting — he was reporting on the less appealing aspects of a major escalation in the bombing campaign which would have attracted headlines on its own merits. His “in depth” of such an important benchmarks added markedly to its public impact. So great was the cry that President Johnson felt impelled to express “deep regret” over civilian casualties on both sides.

To Walter Lippman, the New Year meant “there is hope ONLY in a negotiated compromise” (emphasis added), but to others optimism was the keynote. Ambassador Lodge, in his New Year’s statement, predicted that “allied forces will make sensational military gains in 1967” and “the war would end in an eventual fadeout one the allied pacification effort made enough progress to convince Hanoi that the jig was up.”  The New York Daily News informed 15 million New Yorkers that the “U.S. Expects to Crush Main Red Force in ’67.”

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Pentagon Papers: A most difficult lie

Finally stumbled through one of the larger hidden lies in Volume IV C5 of the Pentagon Papers.  During discussions regarding initial deployment of American troops to Vietnam, President Johnson, General Westmoreland along with military and White House policy advisers discussed how to salvage honor if the war was lost. It was a truly sobering read. How did they get to a point where discussions danced around losing Vietnam before we actually became engaged by deploying initial troops to South Vietnam?

Pentagon PapersI feel that more reports documenting a losing effort will continue to surface as I make my way through all 7,000+ pages of the study. On the surface it should shock Americans today to read the reports and both military and diplomatic cables that show President Johnson, General Westmoreland & their aides planed how to deal with losing the war in Vietnam in mid 1965. Regrettably if you read previous volumes of the Pentagon Papers its very clear America had absolutely no reason to back Diem and the South in its war against the communist North….other than the domino theory that was gripping global politics.  They knew well before ’65 that South Vietnam would fall to the communists. Continue reading “Pentagon Papers: A most difficult lie”