LBJ and War
The veracity of that far-fetched story—burnished and succored primarily by the usual denizens of the American establishment, including its media, academy, and government officials—has grown increasingly threadbare in the long years since. This, despite the U.S. government continuing to harbor many critical documents related to the events for purposes of “national security.”
One thing is not debatable. From the date of Kennedy’s assassination forward, under the leadership of new president Lyndon Johnson, America’s withdrawal from Vietnam ceased, and its buildup there began and grew for many tragic years. As the new president told Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara in a private, though taped, conversation: “I always thought it was a mistake to discuss withdrawing (from Vietnam), bad psychologically. But you and the President thought otherwise, and I just sat there and listened.”
Johnson’s long-practiced secrecy and dishonesty finally found him out, however. His doubleminded fear, predicated on deep seated immorality, prohibited American soldiery from doing what it needed to do to win the war. Instead, U.S troops were forced to fight a brutal, demoralizing, “limited” war, prohibited from setting foot into the nation they were fighting!
The Communists, meanwhile, were willing to fight a hundred years and lose their entire population if necessary. They employed guerilla tactics in a strategy of defeating the world’s greatest power with “death by a thousand cuts.” By 1968, more than half a million American troops were in Vietnam, and U.S. military commanders wanted hundreds of thousands more.
Civil discord on the American home front, meanwhile, rose in the late 1960s to heights not witnessed since the Civil War. So did generational conflict among the American public. The two greatest peace leaders in the nation—black Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and Kennedy’s own brother and 1968 presidential frontrunner Robert—were also murdered in cold blood, in public. During that year, one journalist opined, “the nation lived through more history than it could digest.”
The majority of Oklahomans of all ages, especially middle-aged and older, continued to trust and support their public officials and institutions, and to respect the military and war effort as the decade ended. Even so, thousands of draft-aged young men sought government-approved deferments from military service, which they knew would likely involve Vietnam.
Not only could the traditional “outs” of health problems or conscientious objector status qualify them, but, during the Vietnam War, so could college attendance. Thus, America’s young, disproportionately comprised of poor whites and racial minorities, were fighting for their lives in a vicious and unforgiving hellhole 10,000 miles away. They were doing so without hundreds of thousands of the very sort of men who had always before formed their battlefield leadership in officer and non-commissioned officer ranks.
The haunting 1964 words of Chiang Kai-Shek, abandoned by the U.S. and subsequently overthrown by Mao’s fearsome Reds, mournfully invoked the consequences of his betrayal by Communist conspirators from many nations, including the U.S. and Britain (OKLAHOMANS 2, Chapters 7, 8): “All the troubles in Asia, from Korea to India, can be traced to the Chinese Communists.”
The above article is a bonus to the fascinating historical content found within our book
Oklahomans Vol 2 :
Statehood - 2020s
which can be purchased HERE.
View the inspiring 2-minute preview video HERE.