Vietnam A History 1

Disorder and Decision 13

By early January 1965, the Buddhists were again demanding Huong’s ouster, and Khanh saw this as a chance to advance his own ambitions. He offered to protect Huong on condition that four army officers, among them Ky and Thieu, be given cabinet posts. But he also encouraged the Buddhist protests, now beginning to turn against the United States. Buddhist militants ... Read More »

Disorder and Decision 12

The new chief of state, Phan Khac Suu, was an octogenarian who advertised his obsolescence by dressing in a black mandarin gown. A French-trained agricultural engineer who vaguely belonged to the Cao Dai sect, he had once served the Emperor Bao Dai and was briefly jailed by Ngo Dinh Diem for mild dissidence. The prime minister, Tran Van Huong, a ... Read More »

Disorder and Decision 11

Catholic activists, spilling into the streets to check the Buddhists, converged on the military headquarters near the airport where the council had been in session. As they approached the gates, many of them riding or wheeling bicycles, nervous soldiers behind coils of barbed wire started to shoot widly. Their bullets killed six demon¬strators and wounded dozens of others. Exaggerated accounts ... Read More »

Disorder and Decision 10

And other intermediaries were getting into the act. The United Nations secretary-general, U Thant, flew to Washington with a sug¬gestion for Johnson. A former foreign minister of Burma with im-peccable neutralist credentials, he proposed to organize talks with the North Vietnamese. Johnson could not afford to rebuff him. Accord¬ingly, Thant proceeded to make arrangements for an exploratory meeting in Rangoon, ... Read More »

Disorder and Decision 9

Morse was the Typhoid Mary of Capitol Hill. A lean, humorless teetotaler, he had arrived in Washington in 1945 as a progressive Republican determined to steer his party toward enlightened positions on such issues as education and labor relations, which he knew inti¬mately. Frustration prompted him to switch to the Democrats, who rewarded him with choice committee appointments. By the ... Read More »

Disorder and Decision 8

The missing pilot was Lieutenant (jg) Everett Alvarez, Jr., of San Jose, California. Stationed aboard the Constellation, he had been as¬signed his objective in advance, a patrol boat base near the coal-mining town of Hongay, northeast of Hanoi. Years afterward, he would recollect the experience that was to begin one of the worst ordeals for any American in the war: ... Read More »

Disorder and Decision 7

If Herrick harbored doubts about the events, Stockdale was certain that there had been no incident. He had flown over the scene for an hour and a half—enjoying “the best seat in the house,” as he later put it. Unlike the destroyer crews, whose vision had been blurred by surface haze and spray, he had observed every movement of the ... Read More »

Disorder and Decision 6

Though Johnson may have believed that his stern rhetoric would end the affair, his aides behaved differently. William Bundy was away on vacation, but Dean Rusk told his State Department staff to “pull together” Bundy’s draft resolution, just in case the president’s au¬thority to deal with Southeast Asia had to be broadened. Rusk also sounded an ominous chord in a ... Read More »

Disorder and Decision 5

On the afternoon of July 30, two days before, four Swifts filled with South Vietnamese commandos had left their base at Danang, going northward. Just after midnight, two of the boats tried to storm Hon Me, an island seven miles offshore, their aim to demolish a Communist radar installation there with satchel charges. But the re¬sistance was too strong for ... Read More »

Disorder and Decision 4

The program prescribed larger South Vietnamese intrusions into the north as well as a bigger propaganda effort, such as leaflet drops contrived to stimulate a sense of fear and foreboding among the pop¬ulace. It also included maritime activities designed to intercept Com¬munist ships delivering materiel to the Vietcong in the south and to kidnap fishermen for interrogation. But the most ... Read More »