[sixties-l] George McGovern was right (fwd)

From: sixties@lists.village.virginia.edu
Date: Thu Nov 15 2001 - 03:39:15 EST

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    ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    Date: Thu, 15 Nov 2001 00:09:45 -0800
    From: radtimes <resist@best.com>
    To: sixties@lists.village.virginia.edu
    Subject: George McGovern was right

    George McGovern was right


    by Cal Thomas
    November 15, 2001

    The publication of "Reaching for Glory: The Johnson White House Tapes,
    1964-1965" by historian Michael Beschloss (Simon & Schuster) should end the
    argument as to who was right about the Vietnam War. George McGovern was
    right, and so were his Senate colleagues who opposed the war even before he
    did, including Mark Hatfield, R-Ore., Wayne Morse, D-Ore., and Ernest
    Gruening, D-Alas.

    McGovern called LBJ's carpet bombing of North Vietnam "a policy of
    madness." It was a political statement, but the Johnson tapes reveal it
    might also have diagnosed Johnson's mental state.
    The escalation of America's role in Vietnam began with a lie - The Gulf of
    Tonkin Resolution - which Johnson rammed through Congress in August, 1964,
    after fabricating a military confrontation between American and North
    Vietnamese forces, the tapes reveal. Johnson was quoted in 1965 as saying,
    "for all I know, our Navy was shooting at whales out there."
    Beschloss says Johnson assured a Washington audience in August, 1965, that
    "America wins the wars that she undertakes. Make no mistake about it!"
    Beschloss says Johnson didn't really believe this, predicting instead to
    intimates, "America could never win the war in Vietnam."
    Repeatedly, Johnson confides to his wife, Lady Bird, and to Sen. Richard
    Russell, D-Ga., that he sees no way of winning the war but cannot bring
    himself to withdraw American forces. Johnson believed in the "domino
    theory," a controversial view at the time, which said that if South Vietnam
    fell to the communists, other nations would follow.
    In a conversation with his Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, Johnson
    suggests ways to finesse news that he will send 100,000 more combat troops
    to Vietnam, the tapes show. "Feeling trapped," Beschloss writes, "LBJ
    realizes that the war is racing out of his control." Johnson says to
    McNamara, "This is...a holding action...Now, not a damn human thinks that
    50,000 or 100,000 or 150,000 (American troops) are going to end that war."
    So why did he send them? In one of his most famous utterances, Johnson said
    he wasn't going to be the first American president to lose a war. He was
    and he did.
    Daniel Ellsberg, a top Pentagon official in the Johnson administration,
    claimed four years ago to have had in his safe in 1964 records that proved
    LBJ planned to escalate the war after the November election. Johnson
    promised not "to send American boys to fight a land war in Asia," which is
    why a lot of people of draft age - including me - voted for him. Republican
    presidential candidate Barry Goldwater would send us to Vietnam, not Johnson.
    Senators McGovern, Hatfield, Gruening and Morse took a lot of heat for
    their principled opposition to the war. Hatfield, a practicing Christian,
    was told by critics he was opposing God. The others were called communists
    or communist sympathizers. "America: Love It, or Leave It" was a popular
    slogan among war supporters, including Republicans who hated communists
    more than they hated The Great Society. Bob Hope presided at pro-America
    rallies to whip up support for the war.
    The anti-war sentiment unfairly smeared our armed forces. They were, and
    always have been, our finest product. The Vietnam War was about the
    politicians and some generals who betrayed their fellow citizens and their
    country by fighting a war the political leadership lacked the will to win
    and the faith to fight.
    A staggering 58,000 Americans are dead because Johnson would not listen to
    his inner voice, revealed on the tapes, or the voices of McGovern,
    Hatfield, Gruening and Morse, who many conservatives at the time labeled
    Among the many lessons of Vietnam, which, as Beschloss notes, can teach us
    something about present and future conflicts, is that no president should
    have exclusive power when it comes to committing so many American lives and
    resources to a war.
    The Johnson tapes should also teach conservatives a lesson. Many anti-war
    activists love this country as much as those who supported the Vietnam War.
    Just because someone is of a different party or persuasion does not
    necessarily mean they are wrong.

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