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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Daniel Ellsberg‘s Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers is about his direct experience in Vietnam and more importantly his role in leaking The Pentagon Papers. Daniel’s lessons in both academic research and military battlefields helped me learn more about the times he lived in and how it ultimately caused him to steal and publish top secret files regarding the war in Vietnam.
The Pentagon Papers showed world the surprising role of US involvement in Vietnam dating back to Harry Truman through the Nixon Administration. His influence is not to be under estimated. I was impressed to learn of his work with President Kennedy in David Halberstam’s The Best and the Brightest. There was more to Ellsberg than meets the eye.
His background: undergraduate studies at Harvard and post graduate Woodrow Wilson fellowship at Cambridge in England. Daniel returned to apply for Marine officer candidates courses but had to wait a year — so he went to grad school at Harvard (during the Korean War) where he was expected to serve. In the beginning Ellsberg was a political hawk regarding communist expansion in the world especially Soviet aggressiveness in Czechoslovakia and Poland.
A week after getting his PhD he was in the military training to be a lieutenant. He would command a rifle unit in the second Marine division. As his tour was ending his first son was born. He was awarded a three year junior fellowship back at Harvard, but asked the Marine commandant to extend his tour as war in the Middle East appeared imminent. Daniel drafted secret plans against Egypt and Israel. As a research fellow back at Harvard in economic and decision theory he attracted attention of the Rand Corporation and in ’58 accepted an economic position with RAND in California. The Soviet Union launched Sputnik during this time-frame. The cold war was beginning to really heat up.
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