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Vietnam: the Consensus Unravels

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“Why did the world’s most powerful nation fail to achieve its objectives and suffer its first defeat in war, a humiliating and deeply frustrating experience for a people accustomed to success?” -- George Herring

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Vietnam: the Consensus Unravels

  1. 1. Vietnam The Consensus Unravels
  2. 2. America’s Longest War 1950 - 1975
  3. 3. Why?
  4. 4. Why? despite the expenditure of more than $150 billion,
  5. 5. Why? despite the application of its great technical expertise,
  6. 6. Why? despite the employment of a huge military arsenal,
  7. 7. “Why did the world’s most powerful nation fail to achieve its objectives and suffer its first defeat in war, a humiliating and deeply frustrating experience for a people accustomed to success?”
  8. 8. George C. Herring Author, America’s Longest War
  9. 9. John Olson, ©1968
  10. 10. ~58,000 ~millions
  11. 11. Ho Chi Minh
  12. 12. Vietminh + OSS Office of Strategic Services
  13. 13. 1941-42
  14. 14. 1941-42
  15. 15. “Your statesmen make eloquent speeches about helping those with self- determination. WE are self- determined.
  16. 16. Why not help us? Am I any different from... even your George Washington?”
  17. 17. September, 1945 INDEPENDENCE
  18. 18. “We hold these truths to be self-evident. That all men are created equal.”
  19. 19. March, 1946
  20. 20. “French…troops are making active preparations for a coup…. I therefore most earnestly appeal to you…and to the American people to…support…our independence…” TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:
  21. 21. President Harry S Truman
  22. 22. The United States could not “afford to assume that Ho is anything but Moscow-directed.” US State Department, 1947
  23. 23. “Fall” of China 1949
  24. 24. “domino theory”
  25. 25. Bao Dai (SOUTH)
  26. 26. $50 million > 1950-51
  27. 27. $152 million > 1952
  28. 28. “New Look”
  29. 29. $385 million > 1953
  30. 30. Dienbienphu 1954
  31. 31. Dienbienphu 1954
  32. 32. Dienbienphu 1954
  33. 33. “No more Koreas”
  34. 34. Geneva Accords 1954
  35. 35. “[The USA] has not been party to or is not bound by the decisions taken by the conference.”
  36. 36. 17th parallel
  37. 37. Elections 1956
  38. 38. CIA (formerly, OSS)
  39. 39. Ngo Dinh Diem 98%
  40. 40. patronage
  41. 41. abolished elections
  42. 42. shut down
  43. 43. dissenters
  44. 44. A two-part Civil War
  45. 45. Ho Diem vs.
  46. 46. Ho Diem vs. NLF vs.
  47. 47. NLF: National Liberation Front > Vietcong (VC)
  48. 48. Understanding Vietnam
  49. 49. vs.
  50. 50. Consensus Assumptions
  51. 51. JFK
  52. 52. “Project Beef-up”
  53. 53. 16,000 “Advisers” 489 killed
  54. 54. Strategic Hamlet program
  55. 55. Thich Quang Duc burns himself to death on a Saigon street.
  56. 56. “I feel that we must bear a good deal of the responsibility for it…”
  57. 57. “Why do the leaves fall?.... <pause> I was shocked by…”
  58. 58. Dallas, TX: 11/22/63
  59. 59. LBJ “I’m not going down in history as the first American President who lost a war.”
  60. 60. Tonkin Gulf Resolution August 7, 1964
  61. 61. “take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression.” Tonkin Gulf Resolution
  62. 62. Tonkin Gulf Resolution 416-0 (House) 88-2 (Senate)
  63. 63. On Kawara, Title ©1965
  64. 64. Tet Offensive January, 1968
  65. 65. My Lai: March 16, 1968
  66. 66. Above and Beyond © 2016
  67. 67. “I feel like a hitchhiker caught in a hailstorm on a Texas highway. I can’t run, I can’t hide, and I can’t make it stop.”
  68. 68. Nixon
  69. 69. Kent State: May 4, 1970
  70. 70. “Vietnamization”
  71. 71. The Consensus Unravels
  72. 72. “The United States’ involvement in Vietnam was not primarily the result of errors of judgment of the personality quirks of the policymakers, although these things existed in abundance.
  73. 73. “It was the logical, if not inevitable, outgrowth of a world view and a policy; the policy of containment which Americans in and out of government accepted without serious question for more than two decades.”
  74. 74. George C. Herring May, 1979
  75. 75. We must act to stop Communism and we have the right to do this, everywhere.
  76. 76. DEFEAT April 29, 1975
  77. 77. We have faith in our leaders and our [superior] political institutions.
  78. 78. End of the Great Society
  79. 79. America can solve or is already solving all of its problems.
  80. 80. Vietnamese “boat people”

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