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7/31/2018 8:12 am  #1

The Best and the Brightest


The Best and the Brightest
David Halberstam

The Best and the Brightest (1972) is an account by journalist David Halberstam of the origins of the Vietnam War published by Random House. The focus of the book is on the foreign policy crafted by academics and intellectuals who were in John F. Kennedy's administration, and the consequences of those policies in Vietnam. The title referred to Kennedy's "whiz kids"—leaders of industry and academia brought into the Kennedy administration—whom Halberstam characterized as insisting on "brilliant policies that defied common sense" in Vietnam, often against the advice of career U.S. Department of State employees.

The value of this book, in my opinion, is that it provides the best explanation that I have seen for the American failure in Vietnam.

The Americans treated Vietnam as if their history started the day that the Americans arrived. We treated the situation as if South Vietnam was a legitimate, long existing state, that faced invasion from a communist power.
We saw it as communism vs the free world.

The Vietnamese saw the war in much different terms. They saw the war as a continuing effort to expel foreign masters. They saw it as an anti-colonial war.

The French had colonized Vietnam in the mid 19th century. After the defeat of the Japanese in 1945 Ho Chi Minh launched a war of liberation to expel the French. After a totally unexpected defeat at Dien Bien Phu, the French were forced to recognize the revolutionaries. At peace talks in Vienna, the French negotiated a withdrawal, and the states of North Vietnam and South Vietnam were created.

The democrats, still stinging from the 'loss' of China were determined not to suffer another defeat and appear soft on defense. So saving South Vietnam became of the highest Priority.
The Americans saw Vietnam as a battle against communism, and an effort to save face.
The Vietnamese saw it as the final step towards expelling colonial masters and achieving self-rule.
We were never going to win.

Last edited by Goose (7/31/2018 8:12 am)

We live in a time in which decent and otherwise sensible people are surrendering too easily to the hectoring of morons or extremists. 

7/31/2018 9:22 am  #2

Re: The Best and the Brightest

And also after watching the 10 part documentary about Vietnam on PBS you soon realized that this was a disaster of gigantic proportions that spanned both R and D Administrations with their own lies and spin  and cost the lives of 58,000 US soldiers, up to 250,000 S Vietnam soldiers, up to 1 Million N Vietnam soldiers, and up to 2 Million Vietnam civilians. 


"Do not confuse motion and progress, A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress"

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