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tv   1966 Fulbright Vietnam Hearings General Maxwell Taylor  CSPAN  February 15, 2016 9:59am-10:16am EST

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general taylor greatly. general taylor had a lot of gravitas. they gave him a lot of lee way. there was a great deal of respect for anybody in the military uniform. and even if they disagreed with them. but, agai but, agai but, general taylor brought a view to this war. the generation before, world war ii, they saw this as a continuation. in fact, the administration kept talking about munich and kept talking about all these things that were world war ii analogies, trying to make vietnam into sort of a mini second world war essentially and that was an appealing argument to a large part of the united states who had fought in the
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second world war and who believed that this was the mission of the united states. it divided parents and children very much so. even robert mcnamara's children rebelled against the war. a lot of senators had great argument when is they went home and had dinner with their families. we're privileged this morning to have as our witness general maxwell b. taxpayer lower, one of the ablest military leaders we've had in this country in many years. his record of distinguished service to the nation goes back nearly 45 years. he was an outstanding combat leader in world war ii and in korea and went on through progressively more responsible positions to become chief of staff of the army and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. few men have played such a significant role in the developments leading to our current involvement in vietnam.
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for the last five years general taylor has been associated intimately with the making of vietnamese policy decisions. as personal representative of president kennedy in 1961 and '62, as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff from '62 to '64. and as our ambassador to south vietnam in 1964 and 1965. and he's now special consultant to the president in the recent conference in honolulu. general taylor we're pleased to have you. we had you often before. very familiar with you. we welcome you to make whatever statement you choose. >> mr. chairman and committee i want to thank you for your
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willingness to listen to my views. they will not be new to many of you since you heard me express them when i was with the government. i agreed with the motivating purpose of these hearings namely to analyze the reasons why we're involved in south vietnam, the importance of this involvement, and the effectiveness which we're dealing with the resultant problem. if my personal views can assist in clarifying these points i'll be happy to present them. for the purpose prove providing a basis for our subsequent discussion, with your permission, mr. chairman, i would like to make a continuous statement which will undertake to answer three basic questions. first, what are we doing in south vietnam? secondly, how are we doing it? and finally k-we improve upon what we're doing? a simple statement of what we're doing in south vietnam is to say that we're engaged in a clash
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with the militant wing of the communist movement represented by hanoi, the viet cong and peking. posing these communist forces in the front stand the government and people of south vietnam supported primarily by the united states, but assisted in varying degree by 130e othsome nation. the purpose of the hanoi camp is to absorb vietnam into a single communist state under the leadership of ho chi minh. in accomplishing this purpose the communist leaders expect to undermine the position of the united states and asia and to demonstrate the i ifefficacy of war of liberation.
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our purpose is equally clear and easily defined. in his baltimore speech of 1965, president johnson did so in the following terms. our objective is the independence of south vietnam and its freedom from attack. we want nothing for ourselves. only that the people of south vietnam be allowed to guide their own country in their own way. this has been our basic objective since 1954. it has been pursued by three successive administrations. and remains our basic objective today. like the communists, we have secondary objectives derived from the basic one. we intend to show the war of liberation far from being cheap, safe and disavowable is costly, dangerous and doomed to failure. we must destroy the myth of invincibility in order to
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protect many weak nations. we cannot leave while force and violence threaten them. the question has been raised as to whether this clash of interest is really important to us. an easy and incomplete answer would be that it must be important to us since it is considered so important by the other side. their leadership has made it quite clear that they regard south vietnam as the testing ground for the war of liberation. and after its anticipated success there it will be widely used about the world. in the interview of last december, we believe that national liberation wars are just wars. they will continue as log as there is national oppression by imperialist powers. before him, khruschchev in january of 1961 had the following to say.
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now a word about national liberation wars. the armed struggle by the vietnamese people or the war of the algerian people serve as the latest example of such wars. these are revolutionary wars. such wars are not only admissible but inevitable. can such wars flare up in the future? they can. the communists fully support such just wars and martin front rang of people waging liberation struggle. the commander-in-chief of the north vietnamese forces made the following comment. south vietnam is the model of the national liberation movement of our time. if the special warfare that the united states imperialists are testing in south vietnam is overcome then it can be defeated anywhere in the world. the minister of defense of communist china in a long statement of policy in september of 1965 described in detail how
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mao tse tung prance to expand communism in asia. these testimonies show apart the goal of imposing communism on 50 million south vietnamese the success of the war of liberation is in itself an important objective of the communist leadership. on our side we can understand the grave consequences for us. president eisenhower in 1959 stressed the military importance of defending southeast asia in the following terms. he said, strategically, south vietnam's capture by the communist would bring their power several miles into a free region. the remaining countries of southeast asiae menaced by a great plaflanking movement.
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this view has been referred as the domino theory. i personally do not believe in such a theory, it means believe in a law of nature which requires the collapse of each neighboring state in an inevitable sequence following a communist victory in south vietnam. however, i am deeply impressed with the probable effects worldwide, not necessarily in areas contyingous to south vietnam if the war of liberation scores a significant victory there. president kennedy commented on this danger with moving he low again -- eloquence. freedom today is the southern half of the globe, asia, latin america, africa and the middle east. the lands of the people who harbor the greatest hope. the enemies of freedom think they can destroy the hopes of
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the newer nation and aim to do it before tend of this decade. this is a struggle of will and determination as much as one of force and violence. it is a battle for the conquest of the minds and souls as much as the conquest of lives and territory. in such a struggle, we can not fail to take sides. tend quotation from the president. gentlemen, i think a simple answer to the question, what are we doing in south vietnam is to say that for more than a decade we have been taking sides in a cause in which we have a vital stake. my second question was, how are we doing in the pursuit of our objectives in south vietnam? both sides in the struggle have over the years developed current strategies which are not in confrontation. during 1964 and 1965, the hanoi leadership attempted to exploit
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the political turbulence. greatly encouraged by the disorder which marked the political scene in saigon, the communist leadership made a massive effort to preston victory. to meet the growing needs in military manpower they began infii infiltration of the north vietnamese army. utilizing this new strength they intended to make the offensive of 1965 a major drive for significant military victories. concurrently they increased the sabotage directed at the land communication system in south vietnam for the purpose of hampering the distribution of commodities and thus adding to the economic stresses in the south. terrorism was stepped up and directed with added frequency with united states personnel and
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ininstallation. they hope to seize and hold politically important localities. to demoralize the vietnamese people and government and to demonstrate to the united states that we were backing a cause which must inevitably fail. faced with this growing threat the vietnamese government and our american officials were obliged to develop a counter strategy to blunt and defeat the intensified efforts of our adversary. it evolved out of the experience of the preceding months and years and assumed its full forum with critical decisions in 1965 to introduce united states ground forces and to initiate the bombing campaign against military targets in the north. both of these courses of action have been under consideration at least since november 1961. when i presented by report to president kennedy following a visit to saigon to appraise the growing criticality of the
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situation there. we didn't take either action at that time but my report contained the following comments with regard to the possible necessity of using air power against the source of the viet cong support in north vietnam. i quote. while we feel that the program recommended represents those measures which should be taken now, i would not suggest that it is the final word. if the hanoi decision is to continue the irregular war declared on south vietnam in 1959, with continued infiltration and covered support of guerilla bands in the territory of our ally, we'll then have to decide whether to accept legitimate the continued guidance, training and support of a guerilla war across an international boundary. can we admit the establishment of the common law that the party attack and his friend are denied the right to strike the source of the aggression after the fact
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of that agreegression is clearl suspicioused. end of the quotation. by february of 1965 it became clear we could no longer tolerate this clandestine support from north vietnam which serves as the external base for the viet cong insurgency. in brief the strategy which we are pursuing consists of four components. the first includes the many activities directed at increasing effectiveness of our ground combat against the viet cong and north vietnamese units in south vietnam. we increased forces of south vietnam always mindful this is a vietnamese war in which we should do only those things which the vietnamese cannot do for themselves, or cannot do in time to avert defeat. from july 1964 to july 1965 the
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armed forces and police of south vietnam were increased by some 140,000 trained men. a very credible effort on the part of this small country where military leadership and administrative experience are inevitably in short supply. as of today the overall strength in south vietnam is approaching 700,000 the largest military force among all of our allies worldwide. encouraging though the results have been in increase the vietnamese strength during the years cited our intelligence authorities believe the viet cong increased their total strength by 60,000. in other words, we were advancing at a rate only a little better of 2-1 in our favor. since history has shown that the government forces successfully opposing a guerilla knowledgins
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in the past 10-1 or 12-1, it was quite clear the vietnamese could not raise force fast enough to keep pace with the growing threat of the viet cong in time. it was this sobering conclusion that led to the decision to introduce ground forces with their unique mobility and massive fire power to compensate for the deficiencies in vietnamese strength. with such forces available it was felt they would lose much of their validity. i'm thoroughly aware mr. hair hahn of the concern of this committee over the growing requirement for american troops in south vietnam. is this an endless requirement in an open ended war? ipzhlk do not believe that anyon give a ly satisfactory reply to this question. but i can give some limiting
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factors. first on our side we're not set as an objective for our ground forces the occupation of all south vietnam, or the hunting down of the last armed guerilla. we're in vietnam to safeguard the people who are the real target of the enemy. terrain has little meaning except insofar as it supports people. thus the extent of control and protection of population is the true measure of progress rather than the control of territory. while the former indicator we're not doing too badly. senator mansfield estimates in his recent report that the government controls about 60% of the population. the viet cong about 22%, leaving 18% contested. when i left saigon last july those figures were 53%, 25% and


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