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Undermining the Constitution

Thomas J. Norton notes below in 1951 that Congress has no authority to “lend money or to give it away” – and cites James Madison’s warning of paper barriers being insufficient to stop evil persons in government. Jefferson Davis stated in 1881: “Of what value then are paper constitutions and oaths binding officers to their preservation, if there is not intelligence enough in the people to discern the violations, and virtue enough to resist the violators?”

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865.com

 

Undermining the Constitution

“The Constitution gives power to Congress (1) “to coin money” and (2) “to borrow on the credit of the United States” — but not to lend money, or to give it away, either at home or abroad.

What is expressed in a Constitution is equivalent to a prohibition of what is not expressed. The powers over money mentioned are the only ones that the Constitutional Convention brought in from the world of inherent powers and fixed in the Fundamental Law.

Those specifications reject the theory of unlimited powers exercised by European monarchs in 1787. Not long before that, Louis XIV had kept Europe embroiled in wars by loans or grants of money to belligerent rulers. Did the Constitutional Convention, at least one member of which was born in his reign, intend to give that power to Congress? It did not say so. The power was therefore withheld by the people from their servants.

The United States is now, without authority — under a denial of authority — lending or granting money to Europe, and to the rest of the world. Postwar programs, twenty-two in number, for aiding foreign nations, in addition to the military aid program, have piled on top of the costs [330 billion] of [World] War II $30,757,000,000, according to Senator Byrd of Virginia, speaking in September 1949.

Thus, the limitations of the Constitution become what Madison gave warning of — “paper barriers.”

(Undermining the Constitution: A History of Lawless Government, Thomas James Norton, Devin-Adair Company, 1951, page 22)

Southern Historians Sapping and Mining the Northern Myth

Historian and author Frank L. Owsley dedicated his professional life to righting the revisionist history of postwar Northern textbooks and relating an honest appraisal of why the War was fought between North and South. He viewed the conflict of 1861 as a struggle between Southern agrarian culture versus Northern industrialism intent upon political and economic control of the entire country.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Southerners Sapping and Mining the Northern Myth

“In describing the writings of one New Southerner, Frank Owsley wrote Allen Tate on February 29, 1932: “He is the typical “New Southerner,” the defeated [and] conquered . . . American. Dodd [William E. Dodd, Frank’s major professor at Chicago] remarked to me that it did not hurt him so much to be whipped! Or to see the South whipped! What broke his heart was to see the South conquered . . . he says it is the most completely defeated and conquered people of all history.”

Frank continued: “I believe that the spiritual and intellectual conquest of the South, which Dodd laments, is superficial. The leadership is in the hands of [these New Southerners] . . . and the history textbooks have been written by Yankees.

The purpose of my life will be to undermine by “careful” and “detached,” “well-documented,” “objective” writing the entire Northern myth from 1820-1876. My books will not interest the general reader. Only the historians will read them, but it is the historians who teach history classes and write textbooks and they will gradually, and without their own knowledge be forced into our position. There are numerous Southerners sapping and mining the Northern position by objective, detached books and Dodd is certainly one of the leaders.

By being critical first of the South itself, the Northern historian is disarmed, and then Dodd hits where it will do the most good . . . [Dodd told Davidson] that the younger Southern writers were making the Northern writers look unimportant.”

Frank’s essay in I’ll Take My Stand, “The Irrepressible Conflict,” concerned “the eternal struggle between the agrarian South and the commercial and industrial North to control the government, either in its own interest, or negatively, to prevent the other section from controlling it in its interests.”

At the time the Union was formed, the two sections were evenly balanced both in population and in number of States. The conflict worsened as the balance of power began to change. Slavery was an element of the agrarian society, but not an essential one. Even after the war, when there was no slavery, the South was an agrarian section. The irrepressible conflict was not a conflict between slavery and freedom, nor was it merely a protest against industrialism. It was equally a protest against the North’s brazen and contemptuous treatment of the South “as a colony and as a conquered province.”

(Frank Lawrence Owsley, Historian of the Old South, Harriet C. Owsley, Vanderbilt University Press, 1990, pp. 78-81)

Wilson’s Ideals Shattered by Bolshevism

Woodrow Wilson’s dream of a new world order to end all war was shattered by the scramble for territory, industrial machinery and reparations from a Germany defeated by American troops Wilson had promised voters he would not send into a European war. Within his idealism lay a benevolent collectivist view of the world, not much different than socialist Eugene Debs who he had imprisoned under the Espionage Act.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Wilson’s Ideals Shattered by Bolshevism

“Woodrow Wilson’s first wife’s brother Stockton Axson, then serving as Secretary of the American Red Cross, was a frequent visitor [in the summer of 1918]. Dr. Axson remembered a conversation they had one Sunday afternoon in late June of that year . . . When Axson and the Wilson’s were alone after the meal, Wilson suddenly asked him whom he would name for the next President.

Axson suggested William McAdoo. [Wilson] said Newton D. Baker was the best man but he could never be nominated. “The next President will have to be able to think in terms of the whole world,” he went on. “He must be internationally minded . . . the only real internationally minded people” – Wilson was thinking aloud –“are the labor people. They are in touch with world movements.”

After the war the world would change radically. Governments would have to do things now done by individuals and corporations. Waterpower, coalmines, oilfields would have to be government owned. “If I should say that outside,” he exclaimed, “people would call me a socialist. And it is because I’m not a socialist that I believe these things.”

He added that he believed this was the only way communism could be prevented – Dr. Axson told Ray Baker he wasn’t sure Wilson used the word communism, which wasn’t yet in circulation, perhaps he said Bolshevism – “the next President must be a man who is not only able to do things, but after having taken counsel and made a full survey, be able to retire alone, behind his own closed door, and think through the processes, step by step.

At home, now freshly stimulated by Bolshevik propaganda against capitalism and war, there was than “baneful seething among the working class and the foreign born that never ceased to worry him. There was the troublesome agitation for the pardon of the syndicalist Tom Mooney convicted of bombing a [war] preparedness parade in San Francisco . . . Strikes kept interrupting war production.

From Americans in Russia came conflicting reports. Some saw in the Bolshevik government merely a final phase of the revolutionary upheaval destined to pass away in a few months like the Jacobin terror that ended the French Revolution. Others saw in it the foundation of a new social order. Ever since the Bolshevik seizure of power had shattered his dream of a democratic Russia he had been allowing the news from that revolution-torn empire to pile up against some closed door in his mind.”

(Mr. Wilson’s War, From the Assassination of McKinley to America’s Rejection of the League of Nations, John Dos Passos, Hamish Hamilton, 1963, pp. 373-375)

Churchill Embroils the United States in War

England’s 1914 guarantee of Belgian sovereignty resulted in a death struggle with Germany that only US intervention and 53,000 American dead could rescue it from . England took the same path in 1939 when it guaranteed the sovereignty of Poland, which it could do nothing to secure (Poland’s sovereignty was lost to the Soviets in 1945). The action of 1914 lost England it naval preeminence; the 1939 action lost England’s empire, bankrupted the country, and cost the US over 292,000 battle deaths by 1945.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Churchill Embroils the United States in War

“Although the war had begun in Europe the scattered empires of friend and enemy were drawn ineluctably into the struggle. “Neutralization-plans,” said Sir Eyre Crowe, “are a futile absurdity. What is wanted is to strike hard with all our might in all the four corners of the world.” [The] Foreign Secretary told Colonel House, President Woodrow Wilson’s personal emissary, in February 1915, England would continue the war indefinitely. Publicly, the government was committed to the Prime Minister’s pledge given at the Guildhall on November 9:

“We shall never sheath the sword which we have not lightly drawn until Belgium recovers in full measure all . . . and until the military domination of Prussia is wholly and finally destroyed.”

In pursuit of victory, the cabinet explored many schemes. A naval blockade would hasten the process by cutting off vital shipments of war material and food. Sensitive consciences – not yet anaesthetized by casualty lists from Flanders – were disturbed by the stringency of the blockade policy.

[Board of Trade President] Walter Runciman was warned by his erstwhile colleague Charles Trevelyan:

“I feel great uneasiness about the trend in action of the Government towards trying to exclude German food-supplies passing through neutral countries . . . I do implore you to take care what you are doing. It would be bad enough to alienate Dutch opinion. But it would be infinitely worse if you alienate the USA. Remember that under very analogous circumstances the USA went to war with us against its will.”

Trevelyan feared that the government would act precipitately, especially if Winston Churchill’s influence were not checked. But the Foreign Office was alive to the danger of antagonizing the Americans. As Professor Link has written in the third volume of his biography of Woodrow Wilson: “Conciliation of America was perhaps the Foreign Office’s chief concern at this early juncture.”

The War Lords,” wrote Walter Runciman on 6 January 1915, “are sad in their stalemate, & Winston in particular sees no success for the Navy (& himself) anywhere” [and it seemed that] sturdy endurance as a method of waging war had a limited appeal. The [British] war council and the cabinet weighed great strategic alternatives and investigated the promise of mechanical contrivance in tipping the balance against Germany and Austria. On 25 February 1915, the minutes of the war council record:

“Hankey proposed (a) igniting German crops and (b) distributing a “blight” over the crops. Mr. Lloyd George approved the idea: Mr. Churchill saw no objection to burning the crops, but drew the line at sowing a blight, which was analogous to poisoning food. Mr. Lloyd George did not agree. A blight did not poison but merely deteriorated the crop.”

Churchill’s finely calibrated conscience gave him no trouble when he dealt with the desirability of entangling the United States in the war on the allied side. Walter Runciman, while trying to decide on new rates of insurance for neutral shipping [coming to England], was assailed by the First Lord [Churchill] who wrote three letters in five days urging that the rates should not go up.

“My Dear Walter,” began the first entreaty:

“It is most important to attract neutral shipping to our shores, in the hope of embroiling the U.S. with Germany. For our part, we want the traffic – the more the better; & if some of it gets into trouble, better still. The more that come, the greater our safety & the German embarrassment.”

(Politicians at War, July 1914 to May 1915, A Prologue to the Triumph of Lloyd George, Cameron Hazlehurst, Alfred A. Knopf, 1971, excerpts, pp. 185-189)

War Fever with Japan, 1913

 

Without the spreading of American influence to Hawaii and the Philippines under Republican administrations, the tension with Japan mentioned below would probably not have occurred.  It is noteworthy that Woodrow Wilson and Secretary of War Jonathan Daniels were both Southerners who exhibited a conservative political nature. Wilson, despite his promise to not send American men to die in Europe, was bullied into intervention by T.R. Roosevelt and his Navy League propagandists, financed by American steelmakers and munitions makers.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

War Fever with Japan, 1913

“[The] California Assembly on April 16 [1913] passed an alien land bill that prohibited Japanese landownership in the indirect manner that [Woodrow] Wilson suggested. Underneath the surface, however, an international crisis of the first order was in the making.

The Japanese representatives in Washington and the American Charge’ in Tokyo had repeatedly warned the State Department of the inevitable Japanese reaction; but it was not until public opinion in Japan erupted in full fury around the middle of April that the Washington government awoke to the realization that the two countries might be moving toward a break in relations.

The crisis was made all the more acute, moreover, when the leaders in the California Senate announced on April 21 that they intended to ignore the cautiously worded Assembly bill and to substitute a measure aimed specifically at the Japanese, by prohibiting land ownership by all persons “ineligible to citizenship.” This, and a rising war fever in Japan, impelled [President Wilson] at last to take a hand.

Firstly, on April 22 he addressed a public appeal to Californians, urging them to exclude Japanese from landownership only by polite and indirect means, and not to embarrass the federal government by making the bill openly discriminatory.

Meanwhile, relations with the Japanese government were rapidly approaching the point of tension. On May 9, the day the California legislature passed the alien land bill, the Japanese Ambassador, Viscount Chinda, lodged his government’s protest with the State Department.

The American naval chiefs, fearful of a surprise attack on the Philippines, on May 13 urged the immediate dispatch of three American warships in the Yantze River to those islands. The following day, the Joint Board of the Army and Navy reiterated the recommendation and Admiral Bradley A. Fiske warned that war with Japan was “not only possible, but even probable.”

These recommendations precipitated a spirited discussion in the Cabinet on May 16. Garrison favored strong action and approved the Joint Board’s recommendation, while [Secretary of the Navy Jonathan] Daniels argued that moving the warships would only irritate the Japanese without making it possible to defend the Philippines if war occurred.

The spreading of the First World War to the Far East, a development that Bryan tried unsuccessfully to prevent, brought a new tension in the troubled relations between Japan and America.”

(Woodrow Wilson and the Progressive Era, 1910-1917, Harper and Brothers, 1954, pp. 85-87)

Applauding the Death of Our Young Men

The Battle of the Somme was fought from July, 1916 to November 1916. This was the murderous cauldron young American men were sent to their deaths by Woodrow Wilson, the man who campaigned on a promise not to allow Americans to die in a European war. Had Wilson not intervened, Germany, France and England would have fallen exhausted into an armistice and a negotiated treaty among themselves; the German Kaiser would have remained and precluded the rise to power of a corporal named Hitler.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Applauding the Death of Our Young Men

“At 7:28 A.M. on July 1 [1916] . . . The French and the British infantry climbed up from their trenches and jumped off into the exploding unknown. Like many British commanders a sedulous diarist, Sir Douglas Haig just thirty-two minutes later was making this entry:

“Reports . . . [are] most satisfactory. Our troops had everywhere crossed the enemy’s front trenches.”

All along the line his soldiers were falling in windrows to zeroed-in enemy machine gun and artillery fire. It was a catastrophe. By day’s end more than 60,000 soldiers of the British Empire were corpses littering the field, dying men trapped in the beaten zone, burdens for the stretcher-bearers, or walking wounded.

But not one pivotal plot of ground had been won. Here and there, sections of the German forward defense zone had been shallowly penetrated, and that was all.

Haig should have called off the Somme that night and cut his losses. But having failed, he was too bulldoggish to quit. In consequence, this hideous turmoil must be recorded as the most soulless battle in British annals. The Somme deteriorated into a bloody purge rivaling Verdun. It was a battle not so much of attrition as of mutual destruction, and it continued until November 18.

[Marshal Joseph] Joffre wanted it that way. He kept prodding Haig, insisting that the offensive be continued. At the same time, noting by the numbers (infantry were but digits to him) that his own army was fading away from the effects of Verdun and the Somme. Joffre was pressuring the War Ministry to call up the class of 1917 for training, though 1916 campaigning was hardly begun. If at this time his strategic reasoning had any end in view, it could only be that the side that could scrape up the last 100,000 men would win.

The [United States] of more than seventy million had fewer than 200,000 men in its army. Its armament from top to bottom was obsolete; the cannon and automatic weapons were hopelessly antiquated, cumbersome and scarce. None would do for Europe.

[In April 1917 and after American ships were sunk supplying England with war materiel, the] President said: “There is one choice we cannot make, we are incapable of making; we will not choose the path of submission.”

The President continued to a more meaningful expression of purpose: “We must make the world safe for democracy. Its peace must be founded upon the trusted foundations of political liberty.” For the sake of [the] nation, he asked the Congress for a joint resolution declaring war against Germany.

On leaving the rostrum, Wilson got the greatest ovation of his life. Later, at the White House, he said to his secretary, Joseph Tumulty: “Think of what it was they were applauding. My message of today was a message of death for our young men. How strange it seems to applaud that.”

(World War One, S.L.A. Marshall, Houghton-Mifflin, 1964, pp. 258-260; 280-281)

The US Country-Splitting Business

The Truman administration is considered responsible for the unnecessary postwar intervention in Korea, and the subsequent Korean conflict which was greatly instigated by the Rhee puppet regime. As the internal Korean civil war began in the late 1940s, Truman only called in the United Nations “to add the weight of what was considered to be “world opinion” in support of America’s policy.” The initial American commander, General John R. Hodge, presciently commented that it would be better to “leave Korea to its own devices and an inevitable internal upheaval for its own self-purification.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The US Country-Splitting Business

“Senator Symington. “We go into this country splitting business . . . First we split Germany. Then we split China. We stay with billions and billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of people. Then we split Korea, and stay there with billions of dollars and tens of thousands of military, all at heavy cost to the American taxpayer. Then we split Vietnam . . . Now we split Laos . . . Do you know of any other country we plan to split soon?”

Mr. Porter [US ambassador to South Korea]: “No sir.”

Senator Symington: “This has been quite an interesting policy hasn’t it, over the years? . . . Our allies don’t do [this], not do our possible enemies. We do it all over the world . . .”

(William Porter Testimony, US Security Agreements and Committees Abroad, Republic of Korea, Hearings before the Subcommittee on US Security Commitments Abroad of the Committee on Foreign Relations, US Senate, Ninety-first Congress, Second Session, 1970, pp. 1579-82. Without Parallel, The American-Korean Relationship Since 1945, Frank Baldwin, editor, Pantheon Books, 197, pg. 109)

A Vast Tidal Wave of Fire Across Japan

Joseph Grew had been the American minister to Japan for ten years before the war and felt that the conflict could have been averted. Grew had not ceased to regret what he regarded as the failure of not only Japanese but also if American diplomacy. It is recalled that he reported to Washington in late January, 1941 that the Tokyo newspapers stated that in the event of a break with the United States, there would be an all-out attack on Pearl Harbor. Fleet Admiral Joseph O. Richardson pleaded with FDR to move his fleet from Pearl Harbor as it was a tempting target for the Japanese – FDR relieved him of command and left the bait at Hawaii.  The moral question of Americans firebombing Japanese civilians can be said to have its origins with an American general of the 1860’s.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

A Vast Tidal Wave of Fire Across Japan

“The real blitz against industrial Japan began in early March of 1945 with a series of low-level attacks that marked a revolutionary change in tactics and employment of B-29s in the Pacific. Perhaps most important: low-level attacks . . . would decrease fuel consumption, thus permitting greater bomb loads.

The significant aspect of [targeted Japanese] cities – as seen from the air – was a solid mass of one and two-story houses, over 90 percent flimsy wooden structures . . . by widespread fires could they effectively be destroyed.

After careful analysis, it was decided to make a low-level incendiary night strike against the most densely populated area of Tokyo. One of the most important contributing factors of this decision was its great element of surprise. If the Tokyo strike should be successful, Nagoya, Kobe and Osaka would be hit in rapid succession on alternate nights. It was a daring plan, calling for maximum effort and maximum courage.

Tokyo, one of the world’s three largest cities, had a population in 1940 of about 7,000,000. The [incendiary] flames, started in the northeast section of the target area, were fanned over the area by a twenty-knot wind.

The Japanese were given no time to rest. Two nights later Nagoya was hit by nearly 300 B-29s. The target area was a triangle three miles long on each side. Population density in this area ranged up to 75,000 per square mile. Osaka was next. The target area was about ten square miles. On March 14, nearly 300 B-29s carried 1733 tons of incendiary bombs to Osaka, delivered from 5000 to 9000 feet. Once again, enemy defenses were ineffective.

Early on the morning of the seventeenth, Kobe hears the air raid warning signals. It must have seen the fires of Osaka three nights before. It must have known what to expect. Over 300 B-29s dropped 2328 tons of incendiaries on the urban area of Kobe. Early on the morning of the nineteenth, the wave of fire struck Nagoya again, engulfing areas . . . Over 300 B-29s dropped 1858 tons of incendiaries.

It was as if a vast, fiery tidal wave were sweeping across the great cities of Japan. There was no hiding from it, no stopping it. For the Japanese there was only the hope it would burn itself out. What made it possible?

First, daring and intelligent planning based on a thorough knowledge of the B-29 as an offensive weapon, and a complete study of the defects inherent in the Japanese industrial machine. Second, well-trained combat crews with the courage and stamina to maintain the momentum of maximum effort. Not one aircraft was grounded for lack of parts. Only 1.3 percent of the total airborne aircraft were lost.”

(Air Force Diary, James H. Straubel, Simon and Schuster, 1947, pp. 231-235)

The Atomic Jolt Forward for City Planners

The US armed the Soviet Union to the teeth as an ally against Germany, in the process creating a postwar enemy it has spent trillions combatting. The atomic age also spurred city planners into central planning action to disperse city inhabitants which triggered urban blight and suburban sprawl. Jefferson wrote: “I view great cities as pestilential to the morals, the health and the liberties of man”; and noted that “the inhabitants of the commercial cities are as different in sentiment and character from the country people as any two distinct nations, and are as clamorous against the order of things [republicanism] established by the agricultural interest.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The Atomic Jolt Forward for City Planners

“In the atomic age, [a] report concluded, it was the nation’s newspapers that would “set the pattern and pace” of the public’s scientific knowledge and hence determine its ability to make informed decisions on life-and-death issues.”

City planner Tracy B. Augur told the American Institute of Planners in 1946 that the planning profession had a crucial role to play in guiding the urban dispersal being widely advocated as a civil defense measure. If properly conducted, he said, such a project would involve not just piecemeal resettlement [of Americans outside cities], but a whole new urban planning approach.

The starting point, he went on, was for experts to define “the qualities of social life that are worth having” and then to “plan the kind of urban structure that will make them more fully possible.” Demonstrating the readiness of his profession to rise to this challenge, Augur presented a series of charts showing how a “typical city of half a million could be rearranged from a concentrated to a dispersed form without weakening its capacity to function as a single metropolitan unit.”

Such a systematic attack on the problems of the city, Augur insisted, was in any case overdue. “Long before the threat of the atomic bomb,” he said, urban planners had warned of the need for comprehensive programs to save the American city from “the blight . . . gnawing at its innards” and to convey to the larger society their dream of a totally-planned urban environment. Now suddenly Hiroshima and Nagasaki had propelled the question of the urban future to the top of the public’s agenda.

In the realm of city planning, Augur concluded hopefully, “the threat of atomic bombing may prove a useful spur to jolt us forward!”

At long last, city planners would assume the central social role they had long sought. Having lost the public ear after their heyday in the Progressive Era, city planners, under the spur of the atomic threat, would finally take charge of urban development and guide it along rational lines.

In a 1947 address to the National Recreation Association, a longtime activist in the park and playground movement painted the familiar grim picture of mass leisure in the atomic age, but hastened to offer a solution: “The answer to all this is, of course, Education and Recreation.”

The government must take the lead, he said, in expanding the nation’s recreational resources, including “parks and playgrounds, game reserves, public theaters, opera houses, orchestras, [and] hobby centers.”

Echoing Tracy Augur’s message to the city planners, this speaker assured the recreation specialists that their profession would be crucial to society’s survival in the era of atomic energy. “Unless ability to make wise use of leisure increases,” he insisted, “there is no doubt that our civilization is doomed.”

However implausible and even comic such views seem in retrospect, they were advanced in all earnestness in the perfervid post-Hiroshima cultural climate.”

(By the Bomb’s Early Light, American Thought and Culture at the Dawn of the Atomic Age, Paul Boyer, UNC Press, 1994, pp. 152-153)

Jun 11, 2016 - America Transformed, Future Wars of the Empire, Imperialist Adventures, Lincoln's Revolutionary Legacy    Comments Off on Deluded American Generals in Vietnam

Deluded American Generals in Vietnam

The administration of FDR spent billions arming the communist Soviet Union in order to help defeat Germany, and by 1953, the Eisenhower administration was spending billions to help a bankrupt France preserve its colonial possession in Indochina from communist takeover. The US News & World Report of July 31, 1953 states: “The French Government is serving notice that the United States must put up another 200 million dollars for war in Indochina or expect the Communists to take over that country, and, perhaps, the whole of Southeast Asia.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Deluded American Generals in Vietnam

“In July of 1963, nine years after the debacle at Dienbienphu, Denis Warner, the Australian journalist, told me how astounded he was to find the American generals in South Vietnam deluding themselves with the same false optimism the French generals had professed during the first Indochina war.

Warner . . . had just returned from a trip through the villages and rice paddies of the Mekong Delta south of the capital. Warner noted sadly that the Saigon government’s position was crumbling there just as rapidly under the hammer blows of the Vietcong guerillas as the French position in the Tonkin Delta in North Vietnam had eroded under pressure from the Vietminh insurgents in 1952.

On his return to Saigon, however, Warner had been shocked to hear the American generals assure him with the same false self-confidence the French had shown, that they were winning the war in the Delta. They had cited similarly meaningless statistics on the number of guerillas supposedly killed and on the number of fortified hamlets that had been supposedly built. “I’ll bet I could dig out my old notebooks and find almost identical statements by the French,” Warner said.

The enemy was no longer called the Vietminh. They were now know as the Viet Cong (Vietnamese Communists), but they were the same black-clad little men, lean and hardened by years of warfare, determined to finish the revolution they had begun against the French in 1945 and to unite Vietnam under their rule. At home in the United States, most Americans, just as the French before them, were too preoccupied with their own lives to become interested in a war in a small Asian country thousands of miles away . . . Many probably didn’t even know where Vietnam was.

Listening to the Americans one got the impression that the French had fought badly and deserved to lose. In any case, they said, the French had been attempting to maintain an outdated colonial system and thus were doomed to failure. They, the Americans, knew how to fight wars, since they had defeated the Nazis and the Japanese and had bludgeoned the Chinese Communists to a stalemate in Korea. They were also fighting for democratic ideals and deserved victory, since Communism is bad and Democracy is good.

The Americans, however, did not know that the French Expeditionary Corps had usually fought with more bravery and determination than the Vietnamese government troops they were arming and advising. The Americans also forgot that many Vietnamese peasants saw little difference between the corrupt and brutal administrators of the Ngo family regime the US was trying to preserve and those who had plagued them during the earlier French days.

Like the French before them, the Americans placed their faith in classic Western military axioms and in practice sought a conventional military solution . . . [and] overwhelm the Vietcong with their vast amounts of money and materiel, their thousands of advisors, and the helicopters, fighter-bombers, armored vehicles and artillery batteries they were pouring into the country.

I remember with what confidence Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara assured us . . . ”Every quantitative measurement we have shows we’re winning this war.”

(The Battle of Dienbienphu, Jules Roy, Carroll and Graf Publishers, 1963, pp. xi-xvii)

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