Saturday, September 16, 2017

Ken Burns' Series On Vietnam War A Must See For All Citizens

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Once more, documentary TV series ('The Civil War', 'Baseball') creator Ken Burns has produced a gem, this time an 18-hour series on the Vietnam War to be televised over ten days on PBS starting Sunday.  Burns in a recent WSJ spotlight piece acknowledges the series" takes no sides on the war", neither left nor right. What he does is to enlist a wide range of eyewitnesses to history, including U.S. and Vietnamese veterans (including the North Vietnamese), family members and anti-war activists. All play their role and contribute to the series' staggering breadth and depth.

To Burns' credit the series is also unsparing in its rightful criticism of military and political leaders (with more than ample reason, as I will subsequently show).  These felons of history - especially the odious LBJ - deliberately carried out nefarious policies (like using Agent Orange on crops) in support of an unpopular and corrupt South Vietnamese regime, then escalating engagement despite doubts that they could prevail. This dynamic was particularly applicable to Johnson and Nixon given JFK had earlier (1963) tried to extricate the U.S. from this miasma that killed over 58,000. There is no issue on that, nor that  John F Kennedy actually attempted to prevent it by signing  National Security Action Memorandum 263. 

Burns goes all the way back to the French establishment of Indochina in 1858 as the spark point for future conflict, but the American involvement is less defined. What we do know is that soon after the 1960 election  Johnson - according to FOIA released documents- secretly courted the military to fire up American aggression though Kennedy was steadfastly against it  The back channel efforts to curry favor with the military (especially prime JFK hater Gen. Curtis Lemay) entailed setting up a network to receive actual Vietnam intelligence behind Kennedy’s back – while ensuring the spooks and Pentagon sources delivered only doctored pap to JFK.    (Months later Kennedy became aware of this which clinched one more reason for him to dump Johnson from the 1964 ticket) In many nations, this would be regarded as high treason, and anyone who did it (and was found out)  put before a firing squad.

Much of the credit in digging up the relevant records goes to Military Science Professor John Newman in his book, JFK and Vietnam which documents that by November 24, 1963 – two days after Kennedy was dead (and before he was even laid to rest)-  a policy shift transpired toward massive commitment to American military forces in Vietnam – despite Kennedy’s NSAM 263.  

In the words of another researcher, Peter Dale Scott (Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, p. 30) it also proved  that Johnson – since 1961  - "had been the ally of the Joint Chiefs and especially Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay."  Let us recall for reference it was LeMay who compared Kennedy to Neville Chamberlain when he refused to go all out to bomb and invade Cuba  during the height of the Cuban Missile crisis.

Scott summarized Johnson’s treason nicely (op. cit., p. 31):

A back channel had been established whereby ‘the boys in the woodwork’ were feeding (Howard) Burris and Johnson a steady stream of accurate Vietnam intelligence reports which were denied to the President.”

These latter were almost uniformly false and “optimistic”.

He goes on (ibid.):

Meanwhile, U.S. Army Intelligence in Honolulu kept producing a second series of reports, more accurate and gloomy. These were denied to the President and McNamara but supplied by a secret intelligence back channel to Johnson

Kennedy eventually realized the only way to throttle Johnson and his backchannel was to write and  approve National Security Action Memorandum 263 to move all personnel from Vietnam by calendar year 1965.  Let's examine this in more detail because it remains controversial especially among disinformationists and revisionist historians.

What is often actually cited as the NSAM, i.e.

Is in fact only the cover letter by McGeorge Bundy. It has only passing relevance to the actual content of the NSAM, but it does clearly state “the President approved sections IB(1-3) of the report". Which report? To find these, the researcher must turn to Document 142 in The Pentagon Papers: ‘Report of McNamara - Taylor Mission to South Vietnam'. Then the serious researcher will read:

IB(2) A program be established to train Vietnamese so that essential functions now performed by U.S. military personnel can be carried out by the Vietnamese by the end of 1965. It should be possible to withdraw the bulk of U.S. military personnel by that time.

IB(3): In accordance with the program to train progressively Vietnamese to take over military functions, the Defense Department should announce in the very near future presently prepared plans to withdraw 1,000 U.S. military personnel by the end of 1963.

Note the wording and that a partial drawdown of 1,000 was due for the end of 1963 and the bulk by 1965. Most lazy wannabes or pseudo-historians never get this far while some others that do mistake the "1,000" total for the entire intended lot.

Those of us (Kennedy assassination researchers) who acknowledge that LBJ had a role in his death  - at least enabling its execution-  underscore this occurred because if JFK lived LBJ's NSAM 273 (to activate the Vietnam War) could not have gone forward. Those who question this are left to answer the question:  IF untrue, why is it that LBJ found it necessary to issue NSAM 273, essentially nullifying JFK's NSAM 263? 

As pointed out by  Peter Dale Scott ( 'Deep Politics and the Death of JFK')  Johnson’s NSAM 273   “deleted Kennedy’s restrictions and sanctioned plans for U.S. operations to begin shortly thereafter”. (That is, after Nov. 21 one day before JFK was shot dead in Dallas).  In other words, the fell plans for reversing Kennedy’s NSAM were already in existence a day in advance of the date JFK was killed. Scott notes (p. 30) a draft of this NSAM 273 had presumptively been readied for Kennedy to see. (The draft prepared for Kennedy’s signature spoke only of “additional resources” given by the South Vietnamese to fight North Vietnam – as per JFK’s original instructions in NSAM 263 – but this was the part deleted.)

I advise those who want to seriously delve further into the background to LBJ's NSAM -273 to check out the information in the link below:

Scott has also correctly observed that in the wake of this perfidy most media sources (e.g. Michael Specter in the NY Times) and talking heads (e.g. Noam Chomsky)  who prattled that “NSAM 273 continued Kennedy’s policies”,  did nothing of the sort. Scott further observes (p. 29)  that "even The Nation participated in this obfuscation of the record."  The Nation?  That icon of liberal media? You'd better believe it! At times, and too often to count, liberals can lose their bearings as much as conservatives.

Let’s bear in mind that the NSAM 273 perversion led directly to an even greater outrage, the fabrication of the Tonkin Gulf incident  in August 1964, when two U.S. gunboats - the Turner Joy and Maddox-  were allegedly attacked without provocation. This precipitated the Tonkin Gulf Resolution which directly led to the massive expansion in ‘Nam.  This is something Kennedy - having changed his Cold warrior stripes by late 1962- would never have done!

The Tonkin Gulf incident, for those who may not know, was confected on the basis that North Vietnamese had fired on U.S. gunboats in international waters. This was the immediate pretext for the entry into the war.  In 2005, an internal National Security Agency historical study was declassified; it concluded that the Maddox had engaged the North Vietnamese Navy on August 2, but that there were no North Vietnamese Naval vessels present during the incident of August 4. The report stated regarding August 2:

“At 1505G, Captain Herrick ordered Ogier's gun crews to open fire if the boats approached within ten thousand yards. At about 1505G, the Maddox fired three rounds to warn off the communist boats. This initial action was never reported by the Johnson administration, which insisted that the Vietnamese boats fired first”

and regarding August 4:

It is not simply that there is a different story as to what happened; it is that no attack happened that night. [...] In truth, Hanoi's navy was engaged in nothing that night but the salvage of two of the boats damaged on August 2

In other words, LBJ and  the U.S. war hawks like Lemay used it as a pretext to demand the Gulf of Tonkin resolution and launch a war that killed nearly 58,000. LBJ had finally delivered on his promise to the military-industrial complex to give them their war in return for having assisted in Kennedy's killing and its massive cover up.

Make no mistake, this cornpone Texas turd - so blindly idolized by too many uninformed liberals-   is nothing but a verminous traitor, racist and murderer. He not only saw to it Kennedy would meet his death in Dallas (including by altering the motorcade route and venue for his Dallas speech) but also created the  phony (Warren) commission to cover it up even as he manufactured a document to expand the war in Vietnam leading to monumental loss in blood and treasure.

Ken Burns'  PBS TV series  effort revives the dark past of the Vietnam War and to the extent that it enlightens a nation too ignorant of that history, is laudable.   And while there is the acknowledgement of atrocities like the My Lai massacre, the series never loses sight of the service and sacrifice of the hundreds of thousands who either volunteered or were drafted. Many lf them  are still plagued by the memories that often keep them awake at night. They were, after all, the pawns of the warmongers like LBJ, Curtis Lemay, and William Westmoreland.

But before watching Burns' invaluable film it is also worth knowing how the U.S. involvement got started, the 'backstory' as it were - mostly only revealed in the last 10-12 years. We owe it to ourselves to learn more about how the Vietnam War affected soldiers and protesters alike. But it is also worthwhile historically to understand the perverse role of the warmongers that wasted all those years, lives and capital.

Johnson's cooperation with the military itself - and seeking to exclude JFK - was probably based on two horrendously wrong theories popular at the time: 1) The "Domino theory" which held that if  Vietnam fell the other nations in Southeast Asia would likewise fall, and (2) the "containment theory"  based on the notion North Vietnam was the pawn of the Soviets and China to expand their communist sphere of influence. In many ways, (2) dovetailed with (1).

As you watch the Burns' documentary just think of what might have been if Kennedy's NSAM 263 had prevailed, and hence, Kennedy had lived.

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