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Jace, Basilissa

The Conflict in Vietnam

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14 hours ago, mankytoes said:

Yeah, aside from Vietnam (and while I can't say he shouldn't take a great deal of blame, I don't accept that JFK would necessarily have not escalated things, the process was well under way) he was great, I love LBJ, my favourite to read about. 

The biggest lesson that should be learnt is that you can't just rely on "the enemy of my enemy is my friend". Diem was a truly terrible dictator in every way- incompetent, bigoted, vain and vicious. The attitude that "he's fighting the commies so he's our guy" caused so many problems. 

Still, the same can be said about the anti-war protesters to an extent, even now. People remember My Lai, but they don't remember the incredible communist brutality, especially in Hue, where they buried people alive (I've been to Hue and there's absolutely no memory). 

I spent a few months in Vietnam and it's such a great country. People have a really chill attitude about the whole thing in my opinion, considering the unbelievable damage the Yanks and their allies did. I guess the attitude is mitigated by the fact they "won", but Jesus, what a cost. 

LBJ? The man who made his advisers talk to him while LBJ was taking a shit and who exploded whenever anyone contradicted him or suggested might be wrong?  The man who ignored his military advisers and picked the targets for airstrikes personally?

The Civil Rights act was absolutely wonderful but LBJ was a gigantic asshole who didn’t understand that listening to people who know more than you did about anything is essential for good leadership.

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3 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

LBJ? The man who made his advisers talk to him while LBJ was taking a shit and who exploded whenever anyone contradicted him or suggested might be wrong?  The man who ignored his military advisers and picked the targets for airstrikes personally?

The Civil Rights act was absolutely wonderful but LBJ was a gigantic asshole who didn’t understand that listening to people who know more than you did about anything is essential for good leadership.

Remember, I'm from a country where Winston Churchill is one of the most beloved figures. It's not hard to separate the personal and political for me. How many black and poor lives did LBJ improve markedly? Being mean to his underlings kind of pales in comparison. 

There's a man for his time. Could a more reserved and reconcilliatory person have got through a lot of this key legislation? Maybe the qualities that made him a bad commander in chief made him a good domestic leader (the reverse may be true of Nixon, to an extent). 

But to be clear, I'm not saying he was the best person to be President, just that he's a figure who fascinates me. 

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58 minutes ago, mankytoes said:

Remember, I'm from a country where Winston Churchill is one of the most beloved figures. It's not hard to separate the personal and political for me. How many black and poor lives did LBJ improve markedly? Being mean to his underlings kind of pales in comparison. 

There's a man for his time. Could a more reserved and reconcilliatory person have got through a lot of this key legislation? Maybe the qualities that made him a bad commander in chief made him a good domestic leader (the reverse may be true of Nixon, to an extent). 

But to be clear, I'm not saying he was the best person to be President, just that he's a figure who fascinates me. 

Fair enough.

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Yes, people make the same argument about Bill Gates too (he was real mean to his underlings, but his charity work currently helps a lot of people).

For most people, empathy fatigue happens when they cant empathize with large groups of people, and invariably all calls for charity focus on one key person or event to personalize it for them. For people like Gates (and maybe LBJ, dont know as much about him), it may be the reverse, where they empathize more with the plight of the many but are terrible at individual relationships. However, seeing the latter was willing to escalate the war in Vietnam, I'm not sure how much that theory holds.

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On 10/10/2018 at 7:01 AM, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

LBJ? The man who made his advisers talk to him while LBJ was taking a shit and who exploded whenever anyone contradicted him or suggested might be wrong?  The man who ignored his military advisers and picked the targets for airstrikes personally?

Doesn't change the fact that he did more for Africans on this continent than any president sans Lincoln. Also, one of the guys on Rushmore fucked his fifteen year old slave, and the guy on the $20 bill massacred Indians by hand.

LBJ could have taken a shit on the floor in the middle of the Lincoln bedroom, and then made Bobby Kennedy clean it up, and he'd still be an idealistic giant in the company of his historical peers...but for Vietnam.

Edited by Let's Get Kraken

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I have a soft spot for Lyndon Johnson. He not only got Civil Rights with Teeth through, but was frankly the only person who could have. He was also under no illusions about what this would do to the Democrats in the South either. Oh, and there's the Great Society too - the guy was the last of the New Deal Democratic Presidents (Carter, Clinton, and Obama all being moderates).

But, yes, Vietnam will forever haunt him. As I understand it, Johnson's error was thinking that Ho Chi Minh could be negotiated with in the same way that Congress could be negotiated with (i.e. invite the opposition round to the office for a late-night whisky, and nut out a compromise with copious backscratching). The idea that Ho was a sincere ideologue completely threw him - the guy didn't have a price. 

Edited by The Marquis de Leech

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I've heard a convincing argument made as well that while Vietnam needn't have been fought it Vietnam, it was a war that needed to be fought nevertheless. That it's possible sending the message that America was as willing to spend its own lives as the Soviet Union and Mao's China was a necessary part of ending the Soviet designs on global hegemony. But try selling that to an electorate. "Except for all the others" and all that...

Edited by Let's Get Kraken

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38 minutes ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

I have a soft spot for Lyndon Johnson. He not only got Civil Rights with Teeth through, but was frankly the only person who could have. He was also under no illusions about what this would do to the Democrats in the South either. Oh, and there's the Great Society too - the guy was the last of the New Deal Democratic Presidents (Carter, Clinton, and Obama all being moderates).

But, yes, Vietnam will forever haunt him. As I understand it, Johnson's error was thinking that Ho Chi Minh could be negotiated with in the same way that Congress could be negotiated with (i.e. invite the opposition round to the office for a late-night whisky, and nut out a compromise with copious backscratching). The idea that Ho was a sincere ideologue completely threw him - the guy didn't have a price. 

That, and there’s too much tape on him framing Nam and it's calculations from the ‘how does this affect me politically?’ POV to sit too comfortably on the brow of the Backwoods Philosopher King as some of his more ardent admirers would have it. I think his image has been rightfully rehabilitated, because there was a lot of there there, but Nam (and his many decisions thereof) are a pretty significant ‘but’. My main issue was that when so many former true believers came to see the war as unwinnable, particularly after McNamara and his immediate successors lost faith, LBJ himself privately agreed but (also privately) kept acting like escalation of the bombing campaign was the only recourse because anything else would reflect poorly on him. So that’s a pure 1:1 decision of countless innocent lives for the sake of his personal career/power/legacy. That’s...well, on Nixon it fits. It would fit on Trump. 

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11 minutes ago, Let's Get Kraken said:

I've heard a convincing argument made as well that while Vietnam needn't have been fought it Vietnam, it was a war that needed to be fought nevertheless. That it's possible sending the message that America was as willing to spend its own lives as the Soviet Union and Mao's China was a necessary part of ending the Soviet designs on global hegemony. But try selling that to an electorate. "Except for all the others" and all that...

That's a misreading of Soviet foreign policy. The Soviets were opportunistic (especially in the 1970s, courtesy of petrodollars), rather than having a coherent plan of international hegemony. 

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6 minutes ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

That's a misreading of Soviet foreign policy. 

Which pretty much describes everything from the Long Telegram onward.

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53 minutes ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

That's a misreading of Soviet foreign policy. The Soviets were opportunistic (especially in the 1970s, courtesy of petrodollars), rather than having a coherent plan of international hegemony. 

But not an entirely unreasonable reading given the intelligence that Washington had at the time. And "opportunistic" is a bit generous. I would say at least they were aggressively expansionist and hostile to the interests of many Western ideals. If China hadn't shifted its enmity from the U.S. (and Japan via proxy) to an ideological conflict with Russian Communism and the Brezhnev Doctrine, we very well may have had it out with the Russians somewhere else. It seemed that Krushcev blamed the Chinese/Indian border conflict for having to back down over Cuba. The death toll in Vietnam was certainly something considered in China's gradual shift.

Edited by Let's Get Kraken

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On 10/10/2018 at 1:12 PM, mankytoes said:

I'm from a country where Winston Churchill is one of the most beloved figures.


And this fucks me off so much.

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7 hours ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

I have a soft spot for Lyndon Johnson. He not only got Civil Rights with Teeth through, but was frankly the only person who could have. He was also under no illusions about what this would do to the Democrats in the South either. Oh, and there's the Great Society too - the guy was the last of the New Deal Democratic Presidents (Carter, Clinton, and Obama all being moderates).

But, yes, Vietnam will forever haunt him. As I understand it, Johnson's error was thinking that Ho Chi Minh could be negotiated with in the same way that Congress could be negotiated with (i.e. invite the opposition round to the office for a late-night whisky, and nut out a compromise with copious backscratching). The idea that Ho was a sincere ideologue completely threw him - the guy didn't have a price. 

Ho was a sincere nationalist who believed in the unity and independence of Vietnam and as such was willing to do whatever was necessary to win that unity and independence.  His belief in Leninist style Marxism was secondary.

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8 hours ago, Let's Get Kraken said:

Doesn't change the fact that he did more for Africans on this continent than any president sans Lincoln. Also, one of the guys on Rushmore fucked his fifteen year old slave, and the guy on the $20 bill massacred Indians by hand.

LBJ could have taken a shit on the floor in the middle of the Lincoln bedroom, and then made Bobby Kennedy clean it up, and he'd still be an idealistic giant in the company of his historical peers...but for Vietnam.

Which he royally screwed up in part because of his personal hubris and arrogance.  His treatment of individuals was indicative of the way he behaved regarding the Vietnam war.

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13 hours ago, Let's Get Kraken said:

I've heard a convincing argument made as well that while Vietnam needn't have been fought it Vietnam, it was a war that needed to be fought nevertheless. That it's possible sending the message that America was as willing to spend its own lives as the Soviet Union and Mao's China was a necessary part of ending the Soviet designs on global hegemony. But try selling that to an electorate. "Except for all the others" and all that...

The problem with that argument is that the US lost and withdrew from Vietnam.  The American public demonstrated that the US would not be willing to accept high casualties over a long period just to "fight communism".  And our refusal to reengage in Vietnam when the North invaded made that clear. 

But then once that happened, the other dominoes did not fall, because the domino theory was always bullshit. 

7 hours ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Ho was a sincere nationalist who believed in the unity and independence of Vietnam and as such was willing to do whatever was necessary to win that unity and independence.  His belief in Leninist style Marxism was secondary.

Indeed, I have wondered what would have happened if the US had been more willing to support governments with some form of nationalism and European socialism.  After all, it's not like there was any question that France and Germany were allies, why not democratic socialism in Chile or Vietnam? 

But that's not the path we went down.

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13 minutes ago, Maithanet said:

The problem with that argument is that the US lost and withdrew from Vietnam.  The American public demonstrated that the US would not be willing to accept high casualties over a long period just to "fight communism".  And our refusal to reengage in Vietnam when the North invaded made that clear. 

But then once that happened, the other dominoes did not fall, because the domino theory was always bullshit. 

Indeed, I have wondered what would have happened if the US had been more willing to support governments with some form of nationalism and European socialism.  After all, it's not like there was any question that France and Germany were allies, why not democratic socialism in Chile or Vietnam? 

But that's not the path we went down.

I feel like the U.S. Government refused to look at pragmatic solutions to problems in the third world throughout the Cold War.  Which is bizarre considering how it behaved toward European allies at the same time.

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1 hour ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

I feel like the U.S. Government refused to look at pragmatic solutions to problems in the third world throughout the Cold War.  Which is bizarre considering how it behaved toward European allies at the same time.

pure colonialist / racist world view. Robert McNamara sort of obliquely gets into this in "The Fog of War" where he talks extensively about how they staved off disaster in the carribbean because they were able to understand all of the russian's motivations and desires, what they needed etc etc, each side could communicate with their counterparts and so forth

Then later in the film he gets to talking about the Clinton era reunion conference in Vietnam and meeting his counterpart from Vietnam for the first time, and that guy says something to the effect of how, "we were fighting for our independence, we still don't understand why you hated us for that" and McNamara's like, "what, no you weren't, you were fighting for communism" but the point is that all the immense effort and ties and communication and attempts at understanding the other side and reversing policy out of what was possible based on the mutual antagonism that went into working with russia--none of that whatsoever was done in Vietnam, McNamara had never even spoken to his counterpart, never once understood what their motivations, desires etc etc were and so on and so forth. 

which, based on how the movie starts with McNamara's gleefully recounting of how he engineered the massive war crime firebombing campaign of civilians in Japan, more or less suggests that a big part of why we were at war with Vietnam was simply pure racism of the principal agents (and the United States culture at large): we didn't consider them human the way that we considered the Russians human. And that'd be true for just about every "third world" (read non white) country the United States dealt with. 

Edited by lokisnow

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41 minutes ago, lokisnow said:

pure colonialist / racist world view. Robert McNamara sort of obliquely gets into this in "The Fog of War" where he talks extensively about how they staved off disaster in the carribbean because they were able to understand all of the russian's motivations and desires, what they needed etc etc, each side could communicate with their counterparts and so forth

Then later in the film he gets to talking about the Clinton era reunion conference in Vietnam and meeting his counterpart from Vietnam for the first time, and that guy says something to the effect of how, "we were fighting for our independence, we still don't understand why you hated us for that" and McNamara's like, "what, no you weren't, you were fighting for communism" but the point is that all the immense effort and ties and communication and attempts at understanding the other side and reversing policy out of what was possible based on the mutual antagonism that went into working with russia--none of that whatsoever was done in Vietnam, McNamara had never even spoken to his counterpart, never once understood what their motivations, desires etc etc were and so on and so forth. 

which, based on how the movie starts with McNamara's gleefully recounting of how he engineered the massive war crime firebombing campaign of civilians in Japan, more or less suggests that a big part of why we were at war with Vietnam was simply pure racism of the principal agents (and the United States culture at large): we didn't consider them human the way that we considered the Russians human. And that'd be true for just about every "third world" (read non white) country the United States dealt with. 

The official reasons for Hiroshima/Nagasaki have gone down as ‘less costly/bloody than an invasion’ because of all the actual reasons it sounds the best, but in reality that was a relatively minor consideration for the people making the decisions. If you haven’t eaten recently, go and look up the communiques between the various officials/departments at the time. The REAL reasons were more like:

1) Show the world what we can do, especially but not exclusively Russia.

2) Kill lots of @&*#%#@ing Japs, Pearl Harbour Pearl Harbour.

3) Return on investment.

4) Take control before the USSR gets too involved in this sphere.

5) Unconditional surrender, accept no substitutes.

big gap

Other stuff.

Because, while it was undeniably true that an actual invasion could prove disastrously costly, very few people thought it was even necessary. Time was very much working against a Japan cut off from any supply, and the Brits could (and did) speak very eloquently about how decisive that was for an island nation. The trouble with that method is highlighted in the list above...it was much less effective at scaring the rest of the world, no dramatic payoff, might take a bit to get to unconditional, not nearly as satisfyingly vengeful for PH and above all it probably ceded some regional control to the Soviets if it took long enough. 

But, beyond that, the terms used casually in the communiques about the Japanese is shockingly vitriolic and vengeful and...juvenile. Even if you accept the racism as par for the times, the sheer volume and quantity of descriptive epithets and glee at their expected suffering is just unbelievable for any kind of high level governmental/military discussion. Honestly, it’s just bizarre. 

But we must remember that bringing Japanese heads home as souvenirs was a thing in America. Hell, there’s a Time cover of a smiling soldier posing with the souvenir (ie head) he sent his...wife? Sister? Girlfriend? Can’t remember, but anyways, the cover is NOT by ways of an expose, either. Just mementos. 

There’s nothing like this about Germans. And before you say Pearl Harbour, I say Operation Drumbeat/Rolling Thunder. When you say ‘what?’ I say ‘exactly.’

 

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14 minutes ago, James Arryn said:

The official reasons for Hiroshima/Nagasaki have gone down as ‘less costly/bloody than an invasion’ because of all the actual reasons it sounds the best, but in reality that was a relatively minor consideration for the people making the decisions.

We've had a thread about the morality of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings in the past, and we'll probably have one again.  I do not personally find the immorality arguments very convincing, because while the Japanese were ready to surrender in early Aug 1945, their idea of surrender was barely a surrender at all and far from anything America would accept.  And I think that both Japan and America (not to mention the tens of millions of people living and starving in Japanese occupied territory) were better off with the peace they actually got than any of the likely non-A-bomb alternatives. 

But this is a thread about Vietnam.  If you want to discuss the A-Bomb, we should do it elsewhere. 

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