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  •  Interesting analysis (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melfunction, SilentBrook

    Presidential recordings of Lydon B. Johnson

    David Coleman
    Associate Professor and Chair of the Presidential Recordings Program, Miller Center of Public
    Marc Selverstone
    Assistant Director for Presidential Studies and Associate Professor with the Presidential
    Recordings Program, Miller Center of Public Affairs

    Westmoreland’s request prompted Johnson to convene one of the more significant of these study groups that emerged during the war, and one that Johnson would return to at key points later in the
    conflict. Comprised of figures from the business, scientific, academic, and diplomatic communities, as well as both Democrats and Republicans, these “wise men” came to Washington in July to meet with senior civilian and military officials, as well as with Johnson himself. They recommended that LBJ give Westmoreland what he needed, advice that General Eisenhower had also communicated to the White House back in June. Prior to finalizing any decision to commit
    those forces, however, Johnson sent Secretary of Defense McNamara to Saigon for discussions with Westmoreland and his aides. McNamara’s arrival and report back to Johnson on 21 July began the final week of preparations that would lead to Johnson’s announcement of the expanded American commitment. A series of meetings with civilian and military officials, including one in which LBJ heard a lone, dissenting view from Undersecretary of State George Ball, solidified
    Johnson’s thinking about the necessity of escalating the conflict. Ball’s arguments about the many challenges the United States faced in Vietnam were far outweighed by the many pressures Johnson believed were weighing on him to make that commitment.
    Those pressures were rooted in fears about domestic as well as international consequences.
    Political considerations that stretched back to the “loss of China” episode of the late 1940s and
    Copyright 2010 by the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia 11 early 1950s led Johnson, as a Democratic, to fear a replay of that right-wing backlash should the Communists prevail in South Vietnam. Concern over the fate of his ambitious domestic program
    likewise led Johnson deeper into Vietnam, fearing that a more open debate about the likely costs of the military commitment and the prospects for victory would have stalled legislative action on the Great Society. Worries about the credibility of the U.S. commitment to America’s friends around the world also led Johnson to support Saigon, even when some of those friends had questioned the wisdom of that commitment. Concern about his personal credibility was also at work in Johnson’s calculus. As he would say to U.S. Ambassador to South Vietnam Henry Cabot Lodge within two days of becoming president, “I will not lose in Vietnam.” That personal stake in the outcome of the war remained a theme throughout his presidency, perhaps best embodied by his remark to Senator Eugene McCarthy in February 1966: “I know we oughtn’t to be there, but I can’t get out,” Johnson maintained. “I just can’t be the architect of surrender.”

    Hobbs: "How come we play war and not peace?" Calvin: "Too few role models."

    by BOHICA on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 08:19:11 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

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