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.
My 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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Reaching page 1,758 of the Pentagon Papers (Part IV-C4 Evolution of the War Marine Combat Units Go to Da Nang, March 1965) provides a growing stream of reports and studies that the war in South Vietnam was “lost” as early as 1960. Yet both Kennedy and Johnson decided to ignore those studies and marched America into Vietnam.
As Part IV-C.4. reveals research, studies & politics all concluded that South Vietnamese armed forces were on the brink of collapse against the Viet Cong. The document provides the data that should have not only questioned the decision to deploy US forces but the questioned the role of the US in Vietnam vs Laos.
It was just one terrible decision by the White House after 20 years of continued support for the South Vietnamese. The “no surprise at the time of deployment” was an existing 20,000 American force of military and policy advisers supporting the South Vietnamese air force and government.
Continue reading “Pentagon Papers Marine combat units to Da Nang”
Tim Weiner wrote an extraordinary book Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA. He traced the origin back to World War II and movements by former Office of Strategic Services Officers to run the new agency in a post war world.
Weiner’s research (over 50,000 documents and interviews with agents and over a dozen CIA Directors) is priceless. Legacy of Ashes won the 2007 National Book Award for non-fiction.
I cannot help but look back at sections of his book regarding the CIA’s role in Vietnam from 1954-1975. Weiner book helps indicate where the CIA is today as an organization, regarding their war on terror….also known as the ‘transnational anti-terrorism activities’ including implications of human rights abuses.
Weiner’s rich history of CIA’s vast amount of intelligence gathering required by Presidnets Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon is no surprise, however I was surprised by Weiner’s documentation regarding Kennedy’s distain for the agency and its Director former Air Force General Charles Cabell.
Continue reading “Latest read: Legacy of Ashes – The History of the CIA”
Watching this documentary about Daniel Ellsberg reminded me of his rather extraordinary life that has not yet stopped. With the recent WikiLeaks sensation its worth reminding America how powerful documents can change people and governments.
I read Ellsberg’s book Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers back in 2006 (review here) and realize its better than the movie.
However for today’s Gen Y its more than enough to get them visually interested in events as old as Vietnam, Watergate and Nixon.