Vietnam: The Non-Left Anti-War Argument

[Note: This is a subpost linked to by Vietnam, Israel and the Left’s Delusional Narratives]

There was opposition to both starting and continuing the Vietnam war that had nothing to do with the self-described “Peace” movement.

Eisenhower, for example, thought we should avoid such conflicts and concentrate only on vital choke points across the world. Eisenhower, like many critics of the initiating and continuing the war, argued from the perspective of a realistic and practical strategy. They did not believe that the war revealed America as evil. That type of opposition to the war did not spring from a delusional narrative but from practical concerns over the best strategy for containing and defeating communism. They believed that America had limited resources and limited political will and that we had to pick our battles.

The “peace” movement, by contrast, did not make practical arguments and they did not believe that communism needed to be contained or defeated. Instead, they based their arguments on the premise that the war resulted from America’s internal corruption and that in essence America was the cause of the conflict. Their goal was to get America to abandon the people of Indochina completely and not to simply reform the way America fought communism there. They argued that the people of Indochina wanted to be communist and that they would be much better off under communist rule. When they did succeed in bringing about the abandonment, they cheered the fall of the non-communists.

Defeat in Afghanistan? The View from 2050


Voices from many quarters are saying dire things about the American-led campaign in Afghanistan. The prospect of defeat, whatever that may mean in practice, is real. But we are so close to the events, it is hard to know what is and is not critical. And the facts which trickle out allow people who are not insiders to only have a sketchy, pointillist impression of the state of play. There is a lot of noise around a weak signal.

ChicagoBoyz will be convening a group of contributors to look back on the American campaign in Afghanistan from a forty year distance, from 2050.

40 years is the period from Fort Sumter to the Death of Victoria, from the Death of Victoria to Pearl Harbor, from Pearl Harbor to the inauguration of Ronald Reagan. It is a big chunk of history. It is enough time to gain perspective.

This exercise in informed and educated imagination is meant to help us gain intellectual distance from the drumbeat of day to day events, to understand the current situation in Afghanistan more clearly, to think-through the potential outcomes, and to consider the stakes which are in play in the longer run of history for America, for its military, for the region, and for the rest of the world.

The Roundtable contributors will publish their posts and responses during the third and fourth weeks of August, 2010.

The ChicagoBoyz blog is a place where we can think about the unthinkable.

Stand by for further details, including a list of our contributors.

When Nixon Saved China

There is nothing new in this story that back in ’69 Nixon threatened to nuke the Soviets if they nuked the Chinese. I first read about this back in the early ’80s. It was the war prevented by an exchange of ping pong players.

The entire three-sided conflict is a fascinating example of how complex and multilayered the generic “Great Game” gets. It also serves as a demonstration of why the simplistic models that many people, especially those on the left, use to justify foreign policy stances are really just silly.

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Two COINs for a Sunday Night


Rufus Phillips

Rufus Phillips:

In 1954, as a young Army officer detailed to the CIA with little experience, Rufus Phillips became a member of what was then called the Saigon Military Mission – several years before America’s military involvement in Vietnam became a matter of public record. He worked directly under Col. Edward Lansdale, the Air Force officer working for the CIA who was responsible for managing the U.S. presence and advising the nascent South Vietnamese government of President Ngo Dinh Diem – trying, for example, to convince Diem to post realistic-looking election results. As the war progressed and America’s involvement deepened, Phillips led counterinsurgency efforts and won the CIA’s Intelligence Medal of Merit for his work; later, he became a consultant for the State Department and served as an adviser to Vice President Hubert Humphrey until the 1968 election.

Phillips wrote a book Why Vietnam Matters and gave a lecture and Q&A session on it at the Pritzker Military Library on 11.22.2008. Phillips was concerned with outlining the lessons he learned in Vietnam and how they applied to Iraq and Afghanistan. One interesting observation Phillips made is on the domino theory in response to an audience question. He argued that the domino theory was very much in play in the mid-1950s in Laos, Cambodia, and South Vietnam. There was no organized native government at all so a few Commie insurgents showing up with a rifle was enough to constitute a government. This was less true in later years when those nations had developed some institutional strength, though it’s interesting that Laos and Cambodia followed South Vietnam in succumbing to Communist rule rather quickly…almost like dominoes.

There is a video of the lecture here and an MP3 here.

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