Vietnam A History 1

Vietnam Is the Place 9

When the French dismissed Nhu, penalizing him for Diem’s na¬tionalist activities, he took his bride to Dalat, where they lived com¬fortably during France’s war against the Vietminh. He edited a newspaper and dabbled in politics while she gave birth to four children. In 1955, after Diem ousted Bao Dai in the rigged referendum, the Nhus moved into the presidential palace ... Read More »

Vietnam Is the Place 8

The storm ended within an hour—miraculously for Diem and his family. An early riser, Diem had been perusing a biography of George Washington, a gift from an American visitor, when the first bomb fell into his wing of the palace. It failed to explode. He dashed to a fortified cellar, where he had survived the attempted coup in 1960, and ... Read More »

Vietnam Is the Place 7

The eastern side of the combat area, mostly open farmland, had deliberately been left unguarded to permit artillery and aircraft to rake the Vietcong guerrillas if they tried to flee across the exposed terrain. The challenge now was to block their avenue of retreat until morning, and Vann advised that paratroopers be deployed for that purpose. But his proposal provoked ... Read More »

Vietnam Is the Place 6

The influx of U.S. hardware at that time was tiny compared to the later vast flow of materiel into Vietnam. But the equipment paradox¬ically sapped the Diem regime. For the aid, overwhelmingly military, confirmed Diem’s conviction that he was waging a conventional con¬flict, and it stiffened his resistance to political, economic and social reforms. Moreover, his battalions became more and ... Read More »

Vietnam Is the Place 5

Nhu, an unleavened intellectual who was more at home in the Latin Quarter than in Vietnam, neither understood the countryside nor really cared about the peasants. He issued instructions based on his theories, and the South Vietnamese bureaucracy, much of it composed of remnants from the French colonial period, routinely obeyed. An¬cient patterns were wantonly disrupted in many areas. In ... Read More »

Vietnam Is the Place 4

For the missing element in the “quantitative measurement” that guided McNamara and other U.S. policymakers was the qualitative dimension that could not easily be recorded. There was no way to calibrate the motivation of Vietcong guerrillas. Nor could computers be programmed to describe the hopes and fears of Vietnamese peas¬ants. The arcane maneuvers of Diem and his family also baffled ... Read More »

Vietnam Is the Place 3

But Taylor’s most significant message to Kennedy—for the presi¬dent’s “eyes only”—proposed an initial commitment to Vietnam of eight thousand U.S. combat troops disguised as logistical legions to deal with a flood then ravaging the Mekong Delta. Taylor would later explain that this was a “deliberate straddle,” meaning that he had merely offered Kennedy an option. His cables to the White ... Read More »

Vietnam Is the Place 2

In the process tons of memorandums were ground out—only a tiny fraction of which would later be disclosed publicly in The Pentagon Papers, the compilation of documents purloined by Daniel Ellsberg, a Lansdale assistant who turned against the war. And there were end¬less meetings and private conversations and arcane machinations, many never recorded. Ultimately, however, Kennedy made the de¬cisions—sometimes on ... Read More »

Vietnam Is the Place

As his term neared its end, President Eisenhower was trou¬bled less by the growing insurgency in Vietnam than by a minicrisis in adjacent Laos, where the Soviet Union had stepped in to take advantage of a confused civil war. On January 19, 1961, on the eve of his retirement, Eisenhower cautioned his young successor, John F. Kennedy, that Laos was ... Read More »

America’s Mandarin 12

But disregard for them imposed severe hardships on the Communist activists in the south, thousands of whom were being arrested and, in many instances, executed by Diem’s troops and police. They ap¬pealed for help, and their case was supported in Hanoi by Le Duan, general secretary of the Lao Dong party and a native of central Viet¬nam. He had covertly ... Read More »