Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

After all these years I continue to have mixed [confused? :-)] feelings about anti-war movements that blossom during the midst of a conflict even though I also have problems with the wars themselves. In the case of the Vietnam War, I see the movement as instrumental, though not totally responsible, for the US withdrawal.

The key decision makers were the corporate elite who decided the war was too costly and unnecessary:

Chomsky: Well, let's take say, the Vietnam War - probably the leading critic, and in fact one of the leading dissident intellectuals in the mainstream, is Anthony Lewis of the New York Times, who did finally come around to opposing the Vietnam War about 1969 - about a year and a half after Corporate America had more or less ordered Washington to call it off, and his picture from then on is that the war (as he put it) began with blundering efforts to do good, but it ended up by 1969 being a disaster and costing us too much - and that's the criticism...

Marr: So, what would the "non-propaganda model" have told Americans about the Vietnam War at the same time?

Chomsky: Same thing that the mainstream press was telling them about Afghanistan. The United States invaded South [Vietnam]... had first of all in the 1950s set up a standard Latin American-style terror state, which had massacred tens of thousands of people, but was unable to control local uprising (and everyone knows - at least every specialist knows - that's what it was), and when Kennedy came in, in 1961, they had to make a decision, because the South [Vietnamese] government was collapsing under local attack, so the U.S. just invaded the country. In 1961 the U.S. airforce started bombing South Vietnamese civilians, authorised Napalm crop destruction... then in 1965 - January, February 1965 - the next major escalation took place against South Vietnam, not against North Vietnam - that was a sideshow - that's what an honest press would be saying, but you can't find a trace of it.


  Ironically, I also strongly believe that it was also partially responsible for the war's longevity and sometimes worry that the current movement may also be contributing on some level, albeit to a lesser extent, to the continuance of the war in Iraq.

Explain this bizarre accusation.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Mon Aug 27th, 2007 at 07:13:45 PM EST
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When I think about it, it's not a bizarre accusation. It's possible that the hawks dig their heels and press on unreasonably in the face of domestic opposition precisely in order not to lose face domestically.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Aug 27th, 2007 at 07:20:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There was already a huge loss of face involved - the US losing to little Vietnam, and the whole dominoes argument used for years. I don't think the opposition to the war did much to influence those already committed to it, they could be dismissed as radicals, leftists, soldiers against it as miguided, etc.

As Chomsky said, it was really the change in elite opinion that counted:

Clifford, like McNamara, had to deal with frequent requests for additional troops from military commanders in Vietnam. When he became secretary, the authorized force in Vietnam was 525,000. Soon after moving into his Pentagon office, Clifford persuaded Johnson to deny General William Westmoreland's request for an additional 206,000 American troops in Vietnam.

Eventually Clifford moved very close, with Johnson's tacit support, to the views McNamara held on Vietnam just before he left office -- no further increases in U.S. troop levels, support for the bombing halt, and gradual disengagement from the conflict. By this time Clifford clearly disagreed with Secretary of State Dean Rusk, who believed, according to The Washington Post, "that the war was being won by the allies" and that it "would be won if America had the will to win it." After he left office, Clifford, in the July 1969 issue of Foreign Affairs, made his views very clear: "Nothing we might do could be so beneficial . . . as to begin to withdraw our combat troops. Moreover . . . we cannot realistically expect to achieve anything more through our military force, and the time has come to begin to disengage. That was my final conclusion as I left the Pentagon...."


Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Mon Aug 27th, 2007 at 08:11:35 PM EST
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