JFK/LBJ and Vietnam

Discussion in 'History Forum' started by Dr. Bob, Nov 18, 2003.

  1. Dr. Bob

    Dr. Bob
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    Many think US involvement in Vietnam was an attempt by a Catholic President (JFK) to prop up a minority Catholic regime in that Buddhist nation.

    But Kennedy was NOT going to make it into a war. His tragic death left it in the hands of LBJ who escalated and escalated . . and truly fractured our nation like nothing since 1776.

    Thoughts on JFK or LBJ and Vietnam?
     
  2. Major B

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    JFK is one of our most over-rated presidents. Growing up in a home devoted to active Democratic politics (back in the day before the Demos stood for fruits, nuts, and fetal genocide), I remember clearly that there was a lot of doubt about whether or not the Demos would even renominate JFK. He was in Texas that fatal day shoring up political support.

    As for LBJ, he was probably the biggest crook who was ever in the Oval Office, but he was intimidated into escalation. His main goal was to out-do the New Deal so that he could insure his party's domination for a generation. The war ruined his own plan.

    Extant tapes show from conversations early in 1964 that HE KNEW Viet Nam was a bad mistake. However, he was concered about the repetition of the "who lost China?" nonsense on his watch. (As my kids learn to answer the question "Who lost China?", the answer is "China lost China.")

    By the way, LBJ was a distant cousin, on his momma's side.
     
  3. SpiritualMadMan

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    I firmly believe that the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) of that day had JFK killed.

    There were just too many Billions to be made on a 'police action'.

    A war fought to be won... Wouldn't last long enough to guarantee retirement income.

    While 'B' feels that Kennedy was/is over-rated He was still far more useful and decisive than most that have followed him. Republicans and Democrats alike.

    Kennedy was shot in November 1963, I joined the Navy January 1970, a little over six years later.

    Viet Nam was *still* going strong.

    In fact it wasn't until just before I was due to get out in 1976 that we finally admitted defeat and evacuated Saigon.

    *Over* ten years later.

    For a war that should have ended in unconditional victory and lasted a year at the most.

    Sorry, but I am convinced LBJ and the MIC sold us all down the river for the almighty dollar.
     
  4. Major B

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    Well, I certainly don't think Vietnam was a sterling idea--but I've also never seen any proof that JFK was going to pull out (other than in the imagination of Oliver Stone).

    And there was a lot a money made. As an aside, see the book "About Face" by David Hackworth, for his analysis on the piece of junk we call the M-16.

    However, the taped conversation I cited is a fact. Johnson told McGeorge Bundy over the phone that he knew the Vietnam thing was a bad idea, but he was under pressure from the Goldwaterites and people in his own party, and the whole ridiculous "who lost China" thing (which had happened a little over decade before) was fresh in LBJ's mind. Whatever his other motivations, he was scared to pull out and "lose the war."

    As far as the war's prosecution, again, no argument that it was botched. It was botched by Johnson and his boys, and it was also botched by our generals, who tried to take the tactics and weaponry designed to fight a WW-2 style war against the Soviets in Central Europe, and attempted to fight an elusive enemy in an Asian jungle.

    The central problem in Vietnam was that we ignored the principles of war:

    The Principles of War are frequently mentioned as a valuable, ingrained, check list toward achieving success.

    I. Objective - Every military operation should be directed towards only one clearly defined, decisive and attainable objective.

    II. Logistics—you must have the resources to accomplish the objective, and they must be the right resources, positioned at the right place at the right time

    III. Offense - Seize, retain and exploit the initiative. Keep the enemy off balance.

    IV. Mass - Concentrate combat power at the decisive place and time. Focus.

    V. Economy of Force - Allocate minimum essential combat power to secondary efforts. Plus, only take the forces you need.

    VI. Maneuver - Place the enemy in a position of disadvantage through the flexible application of combat power.

    VII. Unity of Command - For every objective, there should be unity of effort under one responsible commander.

    VIII. Security - Never permit the enemy to acquire an unexpected advantage. Comsec—Communications Security, and Opsec, Operations Security

    IX. Surprise - Strike the enemy at a time and/or place and in a manner for which he is unprepared.

    X. Simplicity - Prepare clear, uncomplicated plans and clear, concise orders to insure thorough understanding.
     
  5. Dr. Bob

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    When did the ESCALATION truly begin? Kennedy was keeping a low profile - remember "advisors" and "Green Berets"?

    Someone more up on the chronology of the war can see whether post 11/63 there was a dramatic change.
     
  6. Major B

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    The dramatic change was in Jan '65.
     
  7. Daisy

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    The Viet Nam war doesn't compare (to us in the US) to the Civil War aka War Between the States aka the War of Northern Agression in terms of fracturing the US, changing society or numbers of (US) dead.
     

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