Who the Hell Are We Fighting?: The Story of Sam Adams and the Vietnam Intelligence Wars is the story Sam’s incomplete memoir War of Numbers could not deliver. Sam Adams died suddenly in 1988 at the age of 54. Sam was a gifted analyst at the CIA. Author C. Michael Hiam delivers a well written narrative of Sam’s life.
Sam displayed the uncommon trait of speaking truth to power. As history often suggests Sam was in the right place at the right time.
His truth revealed outcomes that pitted him against the White House, MACV and even senior leadership within the CIA.
What also made Sam unique was his inability to backdown to the highest offices in the government. Sam created a point of great turmoil by discovering and confronting repeated MACV intelligence failures. His analysis was not supported by CIA Director Richard Helms. Nobody wants to make their boss look bad.
Haim traces Sam’s life from Harvard to a rising star within the CIA to a disillusioned analyst. War of Numbers did not shed light on Sam’s death. Realizing Haim was going to discuss his passing at the close of the book I dreaded the last chapter to the life of Sam Adams.
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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.
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This is taking a bit longer than originally planned. I’m almost at the half way point of the Pentagon Papers’ 7,000+ pages. My somewhat stale blog is always due to life getting in the way …. but I became stalled around page 1,009 (volume 4: B-3) which addressed the Gulf of Tonkin shortly after the assassination of Presidents Ngo Dihn Diem and John Kennedy.
As I approach page 3,500 and reading about actions 40 years ago, I cannot convey how sad this is for America. The loss of life in a war against communism (today we can realize) was doomed from the beginning. Consistently ignored by Washington and every President from FDR to Nixon lied through their teeth to protect US interests during the Cold War.
Interesting to look at the title “US – Vietnam relations 1945 – 1967” clearly the early volumes indicate before the end of World War II the US sent money and arms to the Viet Minh — yes the Viet Minh.
In 1960 the Viet Minh changed their name to the National Liberation Front (NLF) aka Viet Cong. So FDR and the US gave money and arms to Ho Chí Minh for one year…however we reversed course, backed the South Vietnamese and welcomed the quagmire that cost 53,000 American lives. I hope to be done in January 2012.