Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

To: jazusamo
More than 50,000 Americans gave their lives to win victories on the battlefields of Vietnam that were thrown away back in the United States by the media, by politicians and by rioters in the streets and on campuses.

That is one part of history that makes me despise liberals.

54 posted on 01/09/2008 7:00:51 AM PST by TChris ("if somebody agrees with me 70% of the time, rather than 100%, that doesn’t make him my enemy." -RR)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies ]

To: TChris

This is rather long, but it certainly goes to the heart of the matter with regard to this thread:

>> Our boss was ADM McDonald.
>> We all thought of him as a 4.0 guy, always up to date on all things
>> under Air Warfare.
>>> Date: 1/4/2008 12:07:58 PM
>>> Subject: Cheers and Tears
>>> Subject:
>>> The following is the INTRODUCTION to the book, “Cheers and Tears”
by Lt.
>> Gen. Charles Cooper, USMC (Ret.). This chapter was provided by Lt.
>> Cooper
>>> for posting on MILINET.

>>> The Day It Became the Longest War
>>> The President will see you at two o’clock.
>>> It was a beautiful fall day in November of 1965, early in the
>>> Vietnam War
>> -
>>> too beautiful a day to be what many of us, anticipating it, had
>> calling the day of reckoning. We didn’t know how accurate that
>> label would be.
>>> The Pentagon is a busy place. Its workday starts early -
>>> if,
>> asthe expression goes, there’s a war on. By seven o’clock, the
>> staff of
>>> Admiral David L. McDonald, the Navy’s senior admiral and Chief of
>>> Naval Operations, had started to work. Shortly after seven,
>>> McDonald arrived and began making final preparations for a meeting
>>> with President Lyndon Baines Johnson.
>>> The Vietnam War was in its first year, and its uncertain direction
>> troubled Admiral McDonald and the other service chiefs. They’d had
>>number of disagreements with Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara

>>about strategy,and had finally requested a private meeting with the
>>Commander in Chief - a perfectly legitimate procedure. Now, after
>>many delays, the Joint Chiefs were finally to have that meeting.
>>They hoped it would determine whether the US military would continue

>>its seemingly directionless buildup to fight a protracted ground
>>or take bold measures that would bring the war to an early and
>>victorious end. The bold measures they would propose were to apply
>>massive air power to the head of the enemy, Hanoi, and to close
>>North Vietnam’s harbors by mining them.
>> The situation was not a simple one, and for several reasons. The
>>most important reason was that North Vietnam’s neighbor to the north

>>was communist China. Only 12 years had passed since the Korean War
>>had ended in stalemate. The aggressors in that war had been the
>> When
>> the North Koreans’ defeat had appeared to be inevitable, communist
>>China had sent hundreds of thousands of its Peoples’ Liberation Army

>>volunteers to the rescue.
>> Now, in this new war, the North Vietnamese aggressor had the
>> support of the Soviet Union and, more to the point, of neighboring
>> communist China. Although we had the air and naval forces with
>> to paralyze North Vietnam, we had to consider the possible reactions

>> of the Chinese and the Russians.
>> Both China and the Soviet Union had pledged to support North Vietnam

>> in the war of national liberation it was fighting to reunite the
>> divided country, and both had the wherewithal to cause major
>> problems. An important unknown was what the Russians would do if
>> prevented from delivering goods to their communist protege in Hanoi.

>> A more important question concerned communist China, next-door
>> neighbor to North Vietnam. How would the Chinese react to a massive

>> pummeling of their ally? More specifically, would they enter the
>> as they had done in North Korea? Or would they let the Vietnamese,
>> for centuries a traditional enemy, fend for themselves? The service

>> chiefs had considered these and similar questions, and had also
>> the Central Intelligence Agency for answers and estimates.
>> The CIA was of little help, though it produced reams of text,
>> executive summaries of the texts, and briefs of the executive
>> summaries-all top secret, all extremely sensitive, and all of little

>> use. The principal conclusion was that it was impossible to predict

>> with any accuracy what the Chinese or Russians might do.
>> Despite the lack of a clear-cut intelligence estimate, Admiral
>> McDonald and the other Joint Chiefs did what they were paid to do
>> reached a conclusion. They decided unanimously that the risk of the

>> Chinese or Soviets reacting to massive US measures taken in North
>> Vietnam was acceptably low, but only if we acted without delay.
>> Unfortunately, the Secretary of Defense and his coterie of civilian
>> whiz kids did not agree with the Joint Chiefs, and McNamara and his
>> people were the ones who were actually steering military strategy.
>> In the view of the Joint Chiefs, the United States was piling on
>> forces in Vietnam without understanding the consequences. In the
>> view of McNamara and his civilian team, we were doing the right
>> thing. This was the fundamental dispute that had caused the

> Chiefs to request the seldom-used private audience with the Commander

> in
>> Chief in order to present their military recommendations directly to
>> McNamara had finally granted their request.
>>> The 1965 Joint Chiefs of Staff had ample combat experience. Each
>>> was serving in his third war. The Chairman was General Earle
>>> Wheeler, US
>> Army, highly regarded by the other members.
>>> General Harold Johnson was the Army Chief of Staff. A World War II
>> prisoner of the Japanese, he was a soft-spoken, even-tempered,
>> religious man.
>> General John P. McConnell, Air Force Chief of Staff, was a native of

>> Arkansas and a 1932 graduate of West Point.
>> The Commandant of the Marine Corps was General Wallace M. Greene,
>> Jr., a slim, short, all-business Marine. General Greene was a Naval

>> Academy graduate and a zealous protector of the Marine Corps concept

>> of controlling its own air resources as part of an integrated
>> air-ground team.
>>Last and by no means least was Admiral McDonald, a Georgia minister’s

>>son, also a Naval Academy graduate, and a naval aviator. While
>>Admiral McDonald was a most capable leader, he was also a reluctant
>>warrior. He did not like what he saw emerging as a national
>>commitment. He did not really want the US to get involved with land

>>warfare, believing as he did that the Navy could apply sea power
>>against North Vietnam very effectively by mining, blockading, and
>>assisting in a bombing campaign, and in this way help to bring the
>>war to a swift and satisfactory conclusion.
>> The Joint Chiefs intended that the prime topics of the meeting with
>> the President would be naval matters-the mining and blockading of
>> port of Haiphong and naval support of a bombing campaign aimed at
>> Hanoi. For that reason, the Navy was to furnish a briefing map, and

>> that became my responsibility. We mounted a suitable map on a large

>> piece of plywood, then coated it with clear acetate so that the
>> chiefs could mark on it with grease pencils during the discussion.
>> The whole thing weighed about 30 pounds.
>> The Military Office at the White House agreed to set up an easel in
>> the Oval Office to hold the map. I would accompany Admiral McDonald

>> to the White House with the map, put the map in place when the
>> meeting started, then get out. There would be no strap-hangers at
>> the military summit meeting with Lyndon Johnson.
>> The map and I joined Admiral McDonald in his staff car for the short

>> drive to the White House, a drive that was memorable only because of

>> the silence.
>> My admiral was totally preoccupied.
>> The chiefs’ appointment with the President was for two o’clock, and
>> Admiral McDonald and I arrived about 20 minutes early. The chiefs
>> were ushered into a fairly large room across the hall from the Oval
>> Office. I propped the map board on the arms of a fancy chair where
>> all could view it, left two of the grease pencils in the tray
>> attached to the bottom of the board, and stepped out into the
>> corridor. One of the chiefs shut the door, and they conferred in
>> private until someone on the White House staff interrupted them
>> fifteen minutes later. As they came out, I retrieved the map, then
>> joined them in the corridor outside the President’s office.
>>> Precisely at two o’clock President Johnson emerged from the Oval
>>> Office
>> and
>>> greeted the chiefs. He was all charm. He was also big: at three
>>> or more inches over six feet tall and something on the order of 250

>>> pounds, he was bigger than any of the chiefs. He personally
>>> them into his
>> office,
>>> all the while delivering gracious and solicitous comments with a
>>> Texas accent far more pronounced than the one that came through
>>> he spoke on television. Holding the map board as the chiefs
>>> entered, I peered between them, trying to find the easel. There
>>> none. The President looked at me, grasped the situation at once,
>>> and invited me in, adding, You can
>> stand
>>> right over here. I had become an easel-one with eyes and ears.
>>> To the right of the door, not far inside the office, large windows
>>> framed evergreen bushes growing in a nearby garden. The
>>> desk and several chairs were farther in, diagonally across the room

>>> from the
>> windows.
>>> The President positioned me near the windows, then arranged the
>>> chiefs in
>> a
>>> semicircle in front of the map and its human easel. He did not
>>> offer them
>>> seats: they stood, with those who were to speak - Wheeler,
>>> McDonald, and McConnell-standing nearest the President.
>>> Paradoxically, the two whose services were most affected by a
>>> continuation of the ground buildup in Vietnam - Generals Johnson
>>> Greene - stood farthest from the President.
>>> President Johnson stood nearest the door, about five feet from the
>>> In retrospect, the setup - the failure to have an easel in place,
>>> the positioning of the chiefs on the outer fringe of the office,
>>> lack of seating - did not augur well. The chiefs had expected the
>>> meeting to be a short one, and it met that expectation. They also
>>> expected it to be of momentous import, and it met that expectation,

>>> too. Unfortunately, it
>> also
>>> proved to be a meeting that was critical to the proper pursuit of
>>> what was to become the longest, most divisive, and least conclusive

>>> war in our nation’s history - a war that almost tore the nation
>>> apart.
>>> As General Wheeler started talking, President Johnson peered at the
>> In
>>> five minutes or so, the general summarized our entry into Vietnam,
>>> the current status of forces, and the purpose of the meeting. Then

>>> he thanked the President for having given his senior military
>>> advisers the
>> opportunity
>>> to present their opinions and recommendations. Finally, he noted
>>> that although Secretary McNamara did not subscribe to their views,
>>> he did agree that a presidential-level decision was required.
>>> President Johnson, arms crossed, seemed to be listening carefully.
>>> The essence of General Wheeler’s presentation was that we had come
>>> to an early moment of truth in our ever-increasing Vietnam
>>> involvement. We had
>> to
>>> start using our principal strengths - air and naval power -to
>>> the North Vietnamese, or we would risk becoming involved in another

>>> protracted Asian ground war with no prospects of a satisfactory
>>> solution. Speaking
>> for
>>> the chiefs, General Wheeler offered a bold course of action that
>>> would
>> avoid
>>> protracted land warfare. He proposed that we isolate the major
>>> of Haiphong through naval mining, blockade the rest of the North
>>> Vietnamese coastline, and simultaneously start bombing Hanoi with
>>> General Wheeler then asked Admiral McDonald to describe how the
>>> and
>> Air
>>> Force would combine forces to mine the waters off Haiphong and
>>> establish a naval blockade. When Admiral McDonald finished,
>>> McConnell added that speed of execution would be essential, and
>>> we would have to make the North Vietnamese believe that we would
>>> increase the level of
>> punishment
>>> if they did not sue for peace.
>>> Normally, time dims our memories - but it hasn’t dimmed this one.
>>> My
>> memory
>>> of Lyndon Johnson on that day remains crystal clear. While General
>> Wheeler,
>>> Admiral McDonald, and General McConnell spoke, he seemed to be
>>> listening closely, communicating only with an occasional nod. When

>>> General
>> McConnell
>>> finished, General Wheeler asked the President if he had any
>>> Johnson waited a moment or so, then turned to Generals Johnson and
>>> Greene, who had remained silent during the briefing, and asked, Do
>>> you fully support these ideas? He followed with the thought that
>>> it was they who were providing the ground troops, in effect
>>> acknowledging that the Army
>> and
>>> the Marines were the services that had most to gain or lose as a
>>> result of this discussion. Both generals indicated their agreement

>>> with the
>> proposal.
>>> Seemingly deep in thought, President Johnson turned his back on
>>> for a minute or so, then suddenly discarding the calm, patient
>>> demeanor he had maintained throughout the meeting, whirled to face
>>> them and exploded.
>>> I almost dropped the map. He screamed obscenities, he cursed them
>>> personally, he ridiculed them for coming to his office with their
>> military
>>> advice. Noting that it was he who was carrying the weight of the
>>> free world on his shoulders, he called them filthy names-shitheads,

>>> dumb shits, pompous assholes-and used the F-word as an adjective
>>> more freely than a Marine in boot camp would use it. He then
>>> accused them of trying to pass the buck for World War III to him.
>>> It was unnerving, degrading.
>>> After the tantrum, he resumed the calm, relaxed manner he had
>>> displayed earlier and again folded his arms. It was as though he
>>> had punished them, cowed them, and would now control them. Using
>>> soft-spoken profanities, he said something to the effect that they
>>> all knew now that he did not care about their military advice.
>>> After disparaging their abilities, he added that he did expect
>>> help.
>>> He suggested that each one of them change places with him and
>>> that five incompetents had just made these military
>>> recommendations. He told them that he was going to let them go
>>> through what he had to go through
>> when
>>> idiots gave him stupid advice, adding that he had the whole damn
>>> world to worry about, and it was time to see what kind of guts you
>>> have. He paused, as if to let it sink in. The silence was like a
>>> palpable solid,
>> the
>>> tension like that in a drumhead. After thirty or forty seconds of
>>> this,
>> he
>>> turned to General Wheeler and demanded that Wheeler say what he
>>> would do
>> if
>>> he were the President of the United States.
>>> General Wheeler took a deep breath before answering. He was not an

>>> easy
>> man
>>> to shake: his calm response set the tone for the others. He had
>>> known coming in, as had the others, that Lyndon Johnson was an
>>> exceptionally strong personality, and a venal and vindictive man as

>>> well. He had known that the stakes were high, and now realized
>>> McNamara had prepared Johnson carefully for this meeting, which had

>>> been a charade.
>>> Looking President Johnson squarely in the eye, General Wheeler told

>>> him
>> that
>>> he understood the tremendous pressure and sense of responsibility
>>> Johnson felt. He added that probably no other President in history

>>> had had to
>> make
>>> a decision of this importance, and further cushioned his remarks by

>>> saying that no matter how much about the presidency he did
>>> understand, there were many things about it that only one human
>>> being could ever understand.
>>> General Wheeler closed his remarks by saying something very close
>>> this:
>>> You, Mr. President, are that one human being. I cannot take your
>>> place, think your thoughts, know all you know, and tell you what I
>>> would do if I were you. I can’t do it, Mr. President. No man can
>>> honestly do it.
>>> Respectfully, sir, it is your decision and yours alone.
>>> Apparently unmoved, Johnson asked each of the other Chiefs the same

>>> question. One at a time, they supported General Wheeler and his
>> rationale.
>>> By now, my arms felt as though they were about to break. The map
>>> seemed
>> to
>>> weigh a ton, but the end appeared to be near. General Greene was
>>> the last to speak.
>>> When General Greene finished, President Johnson, who was nothing if

>>> not a skilled actor, looked sad for a moment, then suddenly erupted

>>> again,
>> yelling
>>> and cursing, again using language that even a Marine seldom hears.

>>> He
>> told
>>> them he was disgusted with their naive approach, and that he was
>>> going to let some military idiots talk him into World War III. He
>>> ended the conference by shouting, Get the hell out of my office!
>>> The Joint Chiefs of Staff had done their duty. They knew that the
>>> nation was making a strategic military error, and despite the
>>> rebuffs of their civilian masters in the Pentagon, they had
>>> on presenting the problem as they saw it to the highest authority
>>> and recommending
>> solutions.
>>> They had done so, and they had been rebuffed. That authority had
>>> not only rejected their solutions, but had also insulted and
>>> demeaned them. As Admiral McDonald and I drove back to the
>>> Pentagon, he turned to me and
>> said
>>> that he had known tough days in his life, and sad ones as well, but
. .

>>> .
>>> this has got to have been the worst experience I could ever
>>> imagine.
>>> The US involvement in Vietnam lasted another ten years. The irony
>>> is that it began to end only when President Richard Nixon, after
>>> some backstage maneuvering on the international scene, did
>>> what the Joint
>> Chiefs
>>> of Staff had recommended to President Johnson in 1965. Why had
>>> Johnson
>> not
>>> only dismissed their recommendations, but also ridiculed them? It
>>> must
>> have
>>> been that Johnson had lacked something. Maybe it was foresight or
>> boldness.
>>> Maybe it was the sophistication and understanding it took to deal
>>> with complex international issues. Or, since he was clearly a
>>> bully, maybe
>> what
>>> he lacked was courage. We will never know. But had General
>>> and
>> the
>>> others received a fair hearing, and had their recommendations
>>> received serious study, the United States may well have saved the
>>> lives of most of its more than 55,000 sons who died in a war that
>>> its major architect,
>> Robert
>>> Strange McNamara, now considers to have been a tragic mistake.
>>> ~nahkbin
>>> ***********************************************

Copyright © 1994-2008 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved. Terms of Service - Copyright/IP Policy - Guidelines
NOTICE: We collect personal information on this site.
To learn more about how we use your information, see our Privacy Policy

65 posted on 01/09/2008 10:40:00 AM PST by mathurine
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 54 | View Replies ]

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson