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How the United States Got Involved in…
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How the United States Got Involved in Vietnam: A Report to the Center for… (edição 1965)

por ROBERT: SCHEER

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Membro:mikehoward302
Título:How the United States Got Involved in Vietnam: A Report to the Center for the Study of Democratic..
Autores:ROBERT: SCHEER
Informação:Center for Study of Democratic Institutions (1965), 3rd printing, Paperback
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How the United States Got Involved in Vietnam por Robert Scheer

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By early 1965, the Vietnam War had begun to escalate. That was the year that US President Lyndon Johnson began deploying large numbers of troops, and initiated the bombing campaign of North Vietnam. These actions set the stage for a war that continued for the next ten years, devastated three Asian countries, and led to the first serious military defeat in US history.

At the cusp of the 1965 escalation, journalist Robert Scheer recounts the series of events that led to US involvement in Vietnam. His is a dispassionate and non-ideological account; he sought to document two decades of US involvement without taking strong stands on the growing political questions of the day. Scheer’s account begins following World War II, with France’s attempt to hold on to her Indochinese colonies, with military and economic support from the US. He outlines the 1954 Geneva Convention accords under which the country was partitioned pending free elections, and how such elections were refused by South Vietnam and the US. He then traces the installation of Ngo Diem as President; the growing economic and military commitment to his corrupt regime by the US (including the significant and surprising role played by Michigan State University); the futile land reform project; Diem’s assassination and the unstable military regimes that followed; and the “strategic hamlet project” (under which South Vietnamese villagers were required to build and live in barbed wire enclosures).

Scheer’s source material consists chiefly of public documents and news media accounts. Like fellow journalist I.F. Stone (whom he does not cite), he concluded that the indigenous National Liberation Front mainly fought with weapons of US and South Vietnamese origin -- in contradiction to claims that they were primarily armed by the USSR and/ or China. Critics who have claimed that the Geneva accords had no official status will find no support from Scheer’s quotations from the actual documents, nor will those who speculate that JF Kennedy would not have continued US military involvement beyond the 1964 elections.

Certain gaps in Scheer’s account are understandable, given the time frame of his analysis. In 1965, the full story of US involvement was not known, as illustrated by two key events. One was the assassination of President Diem, which we now know occurred with CIA approval. Second was the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, which Johnson used as a pretext for extensive military action. We now know that an attack on US ships probably never occurred, as revealed in a report declassified by the NSA in 2005. Other reports have revealed that the US ships were engaged in covert military operations, in contradiction to official claims at the time.

In his conclusion, Scheer raises serious questions about the rationale for US involvement in Vietnam, including how such involvement contradicted democratic principles of self- determination. He also challenged claims that US actions were not ideologically - based. His criticisms seem muted from today’s perspective, and with three decades of hindsight. Certainly, more extensive analyses of the history of the Indochinese War have since been published. However, Robert Scheer’s analysis can be viewed as a historical document, written when US citizenry and the press were beginning to question and challenge the military actions and foreign policy of their government. ( )
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