tv U.S. Diplomacy and Counterinsurgency Policy in Vietnam CSPAN May 29, 2017 5:40pm-7:01pm EDT
talks about how the conflict in southeast asia evolved, and the role that president johnson played in the decision making process. he contrasts johnson's policies with that of his successor, richard nixon. >> good afternoon, everybody. welcome. i'm bob kuderle. this is a special session of our 20 years of seminars on global policy. the vietnam war was a cataclysmic series of events,
both domestic and foreign, that ended the lives of millions of people. and changed the sensibilities forever of a generation. i should know, because i'm of that generation. disputes have raged about every aspect of that war in the decades since it was over. and they actually started before, obviously, before the war was over. from time to time, new information and new interpretations come to the fore that cast light on the disputes involved. that's what this seminar today is about. we're very fortunate to have with us to introduce today's speaker, a close student of the vietnam period, my colleague, professor paul stone.
he will introduce the speaker, and also handle the question and answer period following our speaker. paul stone. [ applause ] >> good afternoon, welcome to this session of the humphrey forum. this is also a joint meeting with my class, which my seminar, which is taking place right now, called government ethics and the public will. can you imagine the good fortune of having this course going on, and this particular topic. i will point out that a major focus seems obvious, but is the presidency of the united states, and the role of the presidency. the president of the united states in shaping domestic and international issues. as a faculty member of the humphrey school in the history
department, one of my main objectives is to wean people away from certainty. but in the spring of 2017, we're going to be paying a lot of attention to events of 50 years ago. this is exactly what steve is talking about, and i think this coming april, may, through the summer, we'll have a heightened sense of what it was to be in the united states 50 years ago. lyndon johnson, and we may be able to look up at the collage, there was an effort to recapture some of the images of the '60s. vice president humphrey and president johnson sitting there, and the map of vietnam is dividing them. this is no accident. president johnson, when he
ordered ground troops into vietnam was well aware that 20 years ago, truman had ordered nuclear bombs into japan. and almost exactly 100 years ago today, minus five days, april 2nd of 1917, he asked for a joint declaration of war on imperial germany. he had run on staying out of these kinds of conflicts. i think we're absolutely certain that president johnson was aware of all these things. bob mentioned, my final point will be, as time goes on, new information comes to mind, those of us who have the privilege of working in these archives and
libraries know how absolutely exciting it is to pick up a piece of paper that the secretary of defense or president had his hands on. a note that had gone to a scratchy senator from minnesota named eugene joseph mccarthy, about whether or not he was going to run for president. i think it brings history alive. our talk today is about revisiting these living periods in history. and perhaps we will come away less certain than we were about some things. so, with that, i will introduce my colleague steve young. he was a dean at harvard law, he's been active in politics for quite a while. one of minnesota's, and i would say the nation's, foremost
experts on asian issues. he spent a good deal of his youth in thailand, seems to go back there about every other week. so, with that, i will say welcome to steve. thank you. [ applause ] >> thank you very much, paul. and thank you, bob, and thanks to the humphrey institute, not only for the seminar, but for all that it does. i would like to tell you, briefly, a little bit about myself to set the context for what i'm going to reveal. and then i want to tell you a story about lyndon johnson, and how he personally set a different strategy for the war in vietnam in december, 1966,
implemented in 1967. and then come up with some background and documentation. i began learning about vietnam when i was 9 years old, in 1954. because my father, kenneth young, was first at the geneva conference, settling both the war in korea, and the war in indochina. he came back, and was put in charge of southeast asian affairs, where he was in 1958. so, our dinner conversation was often about vietnam and southeast asia. i remember conversations with dad and others, the vietnamese
ambassadors were guests at our house. i grew up with that. as i was concluding college, i volunteered for the work of usaid in 1966. in 1967, a new organization had been created called c.o.r.d.s. which is the result of what i'm going to tell you about in a few minutes. i had a year of language training, and then went to vietnam, i was a deputy district advisor for four months. in july of '69, i was pulled out of the field and put in saigon
to work with decentralizing power to all the villages in vietnam. i came back, during that experience i learned a lot. came back, went to law school, i learned to speak and read vietnamese in my year of language training, and i'm still so-so, and then became more of an academic, if you will. i convinced the ford foundation for an english translation of the law code of 1493. i got money to do half-time working on this translation, and with my friend and colleague, this book, the tradition of human rights in china and vietnam. subsequently, i did a couple of
law review articles, boring stuff. the law of property 1428. i did an article west moore land versus cbs for parameters. bunker who had been our ambassador in saigon who will figure in this story asked me to help me write his memoirs. so another grant to do another study. read all his secret cables that he sent to presidents johnson and nixon and other stuff. a lot of that stuff is going to be published by hamilton books in a couple of months. in the study of the cords program which flows from the story i am going to tell you.
penguin asked my wife and myself to translate this book. this is a novel but it reveals ho chi minh in a way that nobody has ever known and centered on something which is true but nobody knows about it which was the 1958 rape and murder of ho chi minh's wife by the minister of security. i throw that out there just as a little tease that there is still at this date in 2017 many, many things about the vietnamese that we just don't know in the west. and also, i think there may be things about our own people we may not know that much about. now, i would like to tell you the story.
so ellsworth asked me to help him write his memoirs. so i started off in getting to know his background. and then i asked him, mr. ambassador, why did the president send you to saigon. he says oh, that's easy. dominican republic. how many of you remember the dominican republic in 1965? yeah, two professors. anyway, so i sort of started and bunker could see i was puzzled. and he said, i got him out, all the american troops went home and he remembered. and then it clicked because i had known something about what happened after bunker had been appointmented. you may remember in the spring of '65, there was a political controversy in the dominican republic. the military split into two groups. a conservative group and a left
leaning group. the left leaning group pulled a coup, castro was ready to pounce. then he had a problem. how do you get him out? you sort of stabilize the situation. anyway, bunker by accident was there. he worked on a political strategy to create a coalition among different factions of dominicans to come together for an election. peace, no shooting, no violence. and the american forces went home. in 1967, johnson called bunker in. and -- got to vietnam and ellsworth was surprised because he didn't see this coming. to my knowledge, this conversation was never recorded.
bunker i don't think has ever told anybody about it. he didn't tell his wife carol. i told me. so president johnson has passed away. bunker passed away. i have yet to pass away. but i can pass on the story. so johnson said i wanted to go to saigon and turn the war over to the south vietnamese so we can withdrawal our troops. this has lyndon bans johnson. if i remember, the vitriol and the stereotyping of johnson about a man committed to bombing and destroying of escalation. here he is sending an ambassador to prepare the way forthe withdrawal of american troops. by turning the war over to the south vietnamese. and bunker went out and i will tell you, i won't tell you the
whole story, it will take too much time. but he went out and basically did that. so how did this happen? why would johnson had made this decision? let me point out that this decision was made by lyndon bans johnson himself. and i will tell you more about it as we go through t this is a personal decision by the president of the united states to set a strategic direction for the american participation in the war and he was going against his secretary of defense mac nam aira, the joint chiefs of staff and did not consult the cia or the state department. the track record and the documents in the humphrey library thanks to professor stone, i was able to go there and find stuff which has been overlooked by scholars for many years that have been sitting there in the files which shows you the steps in the story.
let me try to set a historical context of the vietnam war coming down to the fall of 1966. as you know, the french colonized indochina in the 19-century. during the end of world war ii, the japanese, they were occupying indochina, and they overthrew the french governing authority. placed the french military in containme containment camps. please pay attention to the word nationalism. they failed to do two things, the japanese. one, they did not give this government an army. so you had independent vietnam with its own government and no army. secondly, there was a very special vietnamese political leader who nobody ever heard of. and he is a descendant of the
first king that came to power. had the japanese brought him back in the waning months of world war ii to be the leader of vietnam, history would have been different. the japanese lose the war. and there is a free for all among vietnamese as to who is going to create a government. who is going to have the power. in this, in early september ho chi minh and his viet minh plus communist they stage a coup in hanoi and proclaim themselves an independent vietnam and proclaim themselves a government. that night, i may get too much into the weeds for you, but there is an important theme here which we americans don't know enough about. that night, members of two political groups on the
vietnamese national side, the die vets and the other side met. what are we going to do these guys set up a government. and some of the men in the room wanted to go fight. the leader of the dai vets say we will not do that. so they didn't strike back at the communist. within nine months one-third to half of the men in that room had been killed by the communist. on september 9th, 1945, the official gazette of the vietnamese government issued this order. i will read it in vietnamese and then english. [ reading in vietnamese ]
order. this dissolves the two parties the dai vet -- this is seven-days after the viet minh have taken power. -- will be brought before the court for serious punishment. the ministers of interior defense and justice will implement this order. signed minister of the interior the famous japanese military leader. so within seven-days of taking power the communist outlawed two principled forces.
military basis of theday vets and the vqdd. so they go to the chinese who come in and in march 1946 they make a deal with the french. they bring the french back to vietnam. ho chi minh agrees to have the french army return to central and north vietnam and in return, the french conclude that ho chi minh is the leader of the vietnamese people. ho chi minh was created as a vietnamese leader by the colonialist. they set him up. over the next six months, their negotiations between ho and the french for an independent vietnam within the french union -- by the end of 1946 w the nationalist opposition either liquidated or
intimidated, the two parties start fighting each other. they fight to a stale mate in 1954. along the way, however, which is overlooked and a friend of mine in france found this document in the french colonial archives. this is the order for the execution of a young man who founded a religion and this is a report up to the north that he is been executed. so it was the communist many vietnamese believe who started the civil war by suppressing and liquidating the nationalist. the french can't prevail but the viet minh can't either. a conference was called in geneva to work out a way for allowing the french to
government. china suggests a deal. the deal is to divide vietnam in two with the communist having control of the north. and the french and their supporters having control of the south. the americans don't like this. but the french have already agreed separately with the chinese to do this. the vietnamese nationalist feel betrayed. but the deal is done and so-called geneva accords are publicized but nobody has signed them. the people can relocate. and a new government is set up in south vietnam. it is technically the old french government with a new prime minister. the question is what are the americans going to do? well one of the things is we set
up under dull less, looking to create containment against mao in china. a decision was made to support the south vietnamese government. this was affirmed by the letter of president eisenhower in october 1954. my father wrote the letter. there is a paragraph in here which i want to submit to you and to all americans absolutely fundamental in explaining the morality and the efficacy of our effort in south vietnam which paragraph has been overlooked as far as i can tell by every scholar and every commentator. i read, the purpose of this offer is to assist the government of vietnam in developing and maintaining a strong viable state capable of resisting attempted subversion
or aggression through military means. the government of the united states expects that this aid will be met by performance on the part of the government of vietnam in under taking needed reforms. it hopes that such aid combined with your own continuing efforts will contribute effectively towards an independent vietnam endowed with a strong government. such a government would i hope be so responsive to the nationalist aspirations of its people, so enlightened in purpose and effective in performance that it will be respected both at home and apraud and discouraged any who might wish to impose a foreign ideology on your free people. and we committed ourselves to south vietnam. in 1959, the power in the bureau had shifted away from ho chi
minh to lay zuan. and he pushed through a program of taking over south vietnam by force. this was in the resolution 59 i think. setting up group 555 which was opening up the infiltration trail down through laos and another group which was infiltrating people via sea. not use a policy of relying on the nationalist but relying on the family, police and catholics. the vietcong were able to increase their activity level, their cause more dissension. in november 1960, there was an attempted coup aimed at his younger brother. and i remember this because it was after the election in
november. and we knew that dad was going to be appointed ambassador to thailand. and so we were all as kids getting ready to be new frontier people. and dad said one day, well i just got a call from the government and there was an attempted coup in vietnam. and they are calling me to get advice on what the americans should do. so i focused on that. recently, the hanoi has released a lot of the documents party documents and we now have english translations of the orders of the bureau to the china regional party committee and the interzone party committee. these are instructions on setting up the national liberation in the vietcong which was established at the order of hanoi. and they gu through the ten
principles of the nfl. the nlf starts to grow. the hanoi sends down more people. in 1960 they sends down 1217 and this is a document from hanoi's ministry of defense which shows all the troops they sent south. this was given to me by a former north vietnamese leader now in exile in paris. so hanoi escalates by creating the vietcong. they mobilized local people and started assassinating village chiefs, people organizing people around a particular cause. what does the kenny administration going to do? in the end of 1961, jack kennedy decides and their implications because of the bay of pigs debacle, he escalates on our
side. in particularly a strategic hamlin program is begun. which is a lot of argument to this day. and i myself have no clear judgment as to whether the program was that successful or not. it wasn't a total failure. whether it was success as some people say, i don't know. in any case, the government had more strength in the rural areas through the strategy program but lost support. another coup. the first coup and this coup was led by young national officers. this time the coup succeeds and he and his brother were murdered. the leader of the coup was min.
and he and the other coup leaders come out of the french army. they were not part of the nationalist tradition and there was a new government. hanoi responds in late '63 and early '64 with more escalation. westmoreland becomes the commandser. my feeling is that vietnam is not something that lyndon johnson wants to spend a lot of time. he has an instinct that this thing is not going to go in a good way. so basically, i would argue he does not elevate the issue during the campaign. goldwater tries to make something out of it. and there is a little incident which people made a lot of, my sense looking back at wasn't all
that important with a ch was the gulf of tonkin to a get blank check for future american escalation of vietnam. and the other two things by the way, we should not forget is in '64 and '65, i would submit lyndon johnson had his eye on one ball which was bringing to an end jim crow segregation in the united states of america. we need to remember it was lyndon johnson in '64 who on his own, i think within a week after assassination of president kennedy saying we are going to move the civil rights act. and he gets it done. and in '65, the protest at selma. again, lyndon johnson with the help of the midwestern republicans. couldn't have done it without
dirkson. they pass the voting right to end segregation. so in early '65, hanoi escalates again. hanoi begins to send out north vietnamese regiments. not vietcong village guerrillas. coming down to attack forces and destroy them. by may and june of '65, the south vietnamese army is losing about a battalion a week and there are no young men coming into recruiting centers. in june, general westmoreland sends to president johnson what is known as the 44 battalion
request. west moore larnd says i have been sent out here with the mission to defend south vietnam. with the current trend in north vietnamese increases and south vietnamese losses they are going to take over within a few months. then, if you want me to actually move the communist back, i am going to need more forces in phase two. which i will then use on an offensive campaign. by the way, to deal with this north vietnamese escalation, johnson starts bombing. starts bombing the north and the ho chi minh trail. and the rationale produced by mcnam marra is pressure on hanoi to give up. we are going to be so tough that we are going to convince the communist that they can never
win in the long run. so we get into '66 and where are we? well we have bombing going on. we have 173,000 american troops going in the country. johnson has something like 200,000 american troops committed to land warfare in vietnam and a bombing campaign going. and at this point, an anti war movement is being formed. this point, and it was mentioned to you before, i suggest to you is the beginning of the division in polarization and the kind of politics that we are now experiencing 50 years later. so the anti war movement begins to take shape in '65.
the way it begins to take shape is if you ask me, it starts with intellectuals. it starts with campuses. it starts with religious leaders. not out there among the people. and it begins, and the modern postmodernist notion of how we think and how we live is absolutely relevant to what happened here. a counter narrative was created. the narrative of the government, and in '65, the government produces this. it is called aggression from the north. a documentation of north vietnamese of infiltration. however, if you take the numbers in here, and you take the numbers from north vietnam, they are almost the same numbers. only these numbers are lower. the north vietnamese was sending more troops than we thought. but the case was made and
johnson when he agrees in mid '65, to send the 44 battalions and he says, if our commander requires more troops we will send them because we will stand in vietnam. the phrase he used in his speech is worth thinking about as we look at certain crisis and issues we have to face today, north korea. the phrase johnson used is we did not choose to be the guardian at the gate. but there is no one else. the counter narrative was put together first by two professors. this is my dad's copy of the book. and what it does however to find a counter narrative to challenge the united states government and the notion of aggression is to
go back to two books by french colonialist. the counter narrative which created the american anti war movement which divided our countries, basically based on these two books. this is '53, and this is '52. by the way, this author is the frenchman who in 1945 and 1946 made the deal with ho chi minh. these two books are the case that ho chi minh was the nationalist and everybody should have always worked with him because he was the nationalist. there is no discussion in any of these french books about the dai vet or vnqdd or other people.
in october 1966, secretary of defense in his report here goes to president johnson and says i can't win the war. i've told you to send 200,000 troops. i told you to bomb. and it is not going to work. so this is from page 263 of mac nam mar's memoirs. what should we do about this unhappy situation? i perceive no good answer. and therefore offer none. so he goes to his president and says, we can't win. and i don't know what to do. this is secretary of defense. mit, ph.d.. so what does johnson do after the election in about the second week in november. national security adviser, also another guy in the white house
who is comber who has been charged with looking at the other war. johnson calls them in and says there is a note to this and you can see the note in the file. i didn't know about this until i came down there. he says pulled together a little group. and rethink the vietnam war. within one month, comber has come up with a new strategy which adds passfication and building the confidence of the south vietnamese -- in other words no unilateral victory by americans. think about iran and afghanistan in our time. if somebody else's country have to come through a civil war,
they have got to do it. we can help. we cannot win the war and turn the country back over to them. they knew this. johnson begins to move. another major development i think is in late february and early march, 1967, robert kennedy comings out against johnson and against the vietnam war. sh less singer is pleased with himself in figuring out that the vietnam war can be used against lyndon johnson to deny him the presidency and open up a way for robert kennedy to become president. this is his book from '66, the bitter heritage. if you go to this book and this book and the other book and
fulbright's vietnam hearing, you will go back to french scholars only. none of these people cite n vietnamese. another frenchman -- bobby kennedy turns against johnson in the war -- by southerners who were not communist and do not want to be ruled by the north. the next week bunker is asked to go to vietnam for -- appoints two other people. he appoints comber to go out to saigon and set up a new
organization called cords. the cords organization working with the south vietnamese. we defeats vie yet kong. and nobody knows it. he sent out general abrams to be the deputy to focus in on the south vietnamese forces. so bunker at the top level. comber dealing with all the villages and all the cities. and abrams working with the forces and westy focusing on search and destroy missions. if you read, these are declassified, all of the cables to johnson which i asked doug pike to do. you can read these. if you read them, they are obviously written for an audience of one. these are official government documents going back to various
people. but bunker is writing these to his president and what he is pointing out to johnson is every week we are making progress. something has happened, political, economic, military, in this past week which gets us closer to the day when the south v vietnamese can get closer and our troops can go home. now in november '67. how come general west more land didn't protest? in fact he welcomed it. so in november '67, johnson brings bunker and westy back to report back to the people. and westy is on meet the press. and he has a statement at the national press club. and what west sy says is that w are now entering phase four. it is the end game when we can
with draw. the westy is predicting in the fall of '67 that american troops will with draw from vietnam and then he is asked on meet the press, when? well i don't want to predict. but it wouldn't surprise me if we could begin to with draw our forces in two years which would be november '69. the first forces came home in september '69. so johnson made a decision to move towards turning the war over to the south vietnam ease people. he sent bunker out to lead it up with comber and abrams. and by the fall of that year, the end game which had been pre figured in the manila conference in late '66 was that we turn it over and they predict their own
independence. because they are nationalist. and that goes back to my father's formulation of the american role and the vietnamese role. let me stop and we can take some questions. [ applause ] >> i think we will do the usual sort of moving of locals here. in terms of questions. there are some questions that have come up on cards already. i'm going to, i have taken a look at a few of them. one of the thoughts that, and first, i will allow myself to make some reflections on steve's presentation. and in the interest of full disclosure, we have talked about this for several years and spent
a great deal of time talking about it. and steve did go down last summer to the lbj library which is a remarkable experience. steve indicates go back to the fourteenth century in some ways or to the period of america right after the civil war which i think steve's point was that on johnson's mind, it is in fact only three days after jack kennedy has been assassinated -- no better memorial for jack kennedy. he doesn't say squat about south east asia at that particular point. i think that the one of the fascinateding things here in minnesota in the last several years has been the hmong exhibit
which was at the minnesota historical society and if you went to that exhibit, i did it several times one of the things that you see is that laos figures very prominently. i would like your reflection on that steve in terms the civil rights movement. what was happening domestically and our lack of attention. >> there is one story that i forgot to tell you. i want to tell this about lyndon johnson. so it is personal. my wife is vietnamese so i don't know if you john roach. john was a deputy dean of the fletcher school -- long time
congressman fraser. when i was back at the law school after the war, i used to see him back in summerville and he told me a story about johnson and fulbright. it was fulbright and the hearings that gave momentum to the counter narrative. and this is the last meeting that fulbright had with johnson and he is trying to convince johnson not to fight in south vietnam and he is going through his arguments. and johnson says bill, you have to understand. and finally to what makes the story, do you know about lyndon johnson and the treatment? he was a big man and he had big hands and he would use them. he would do this. big hand on his knees and he would squeeze. so this time, it is fulbright who goes over, and squeezes
johnson's knee and looks him in the eye and says lynn, they are not our kind. this is the arkansas of southern segregationist. this is lyndon johnson who in the united states is putting an end to jim crow segregation and when it comes to little people on the other side of the world, what is he saying? he is saying i am going to send american boys to die. so those people over there who don't look like us, right, so they get the same chance that we americans have here. and i don't care how many mistakes johnson has made in his life, but the fact that he can do that and stand up on that point of common humanity, to me,
means he is an admirable man. i am going to read two or three of the questions that came from our audience. and just give you some time to think about them. one of them relates directly to this relationship between the great society, johnson's domestic vision. you pointed out fulbright from arkansas, they were pretty close. they came to a division in the '60s and the biographer says the senate foreign relations committee became a sol lon for developing conversations of anti war activities. one of the questions is conventional thinking holds that johnson believed he needed the vietnam war to press his great society initiatives. how you described johnson's political goal it would appear you don't feel the same. if this is the case, the
question is then why. so that is one question. and i think related to this would be could one argue that lbg's problem was his lack of deep interest and experience in foreign affairs? this is kind of a revisionist view. did this make him sus sentable to military persuasion and finally, where does johnson get the reputation of escalation? did domestic issues distract johnson from vietnam? >> there was, i can't remember, paul, do you remember, was it dave broader who make the description of lyndon johnson as president as the salami slicer? this is a powerful insight. johnson's skill and genius was in the senate of the united
states slicing salami. and we have just seen last week president trump paul ryan and others fail at the process of slicing salami. what is this referring to? it is the deal making, the log rolling, how you get things done. chuck, you get a slice of salami. you get a thicker slices. and you get the end. but you all have to vote with me. when you see johnson dealing with this problem of vietnam, which is clear i think he felt he inherited. this is not something he started. he was a believer in the vietnamese and nationalism and freedom. but he inherited. so he is caught between two basic vectors. he has got a vector of the military. his secretary of defense who is close to bobby kennedy.
who was a potential threat and the joint chiefs and a lot of americans that believe that military problems will solve all our problems. just go out there and as we used to say. kick ass. which is the anti war movement. how do you slice the salami? so what you do is you get the military almost everything they ask for and not everything. and then in the middle you propose the macon -- said to hanoi, if you call off the dogs i will put a billion dollars in the village development in indochina and in north vietnam too. so johnson is constantly doing this. one of the criticisms that i think comes out which goes to the reputation point, why did
johnson get this reputation of being escalation? is he never went public with this strategy. i don't think there is any speech by johnson that says look, folks, this is what i am doing. fulbright is demanding a bonling halt of two weeks, i give him a bombing halt of two days. we are going to draft a lot of americans but wink, wink. ladies and gentlemen, may i also say the social protest which broke out last november and carried donald trump into the white house, i think you can trace back to the draft policies of the vietnam war. about how soon who fought the vietnam war? my class at harvard college, 1967. 1300 men i think.
most of whom who had come from the american establishment. all of whom had been part of the american establishment. how many do you think fought in vietnam out of 1300? i know of five. we have our reunion coming up, and the total in the class who did military service is 25. if you are poor, african americans in the inner cities, where did you go in 1966 or 1967. you went to nam. and you remember some of the songs. so there was no sort of standing up in a way of rallying the people around a very specific goal and mission. lots of salami slices being put out there. >> you mentioned the songs. and i think that is a good way to talk about this period in terms of culture as well. i mentioned in the introduction
that president wilson went before congress. the songs were my buddy over there, we won't be back until it is over, over there. last year at the vietnam summit at the lbj school and library in austin, the songs we get were where are all the flowers gone. and country joe, one, two, three, what are we fighting for? don't ask me. -- harsh stuff. in '65 if there was an anthem that didn't mention vietnam, it was the bird's recording of turn, turn and it was taken from the book of ecclesiastes.
a time for peace, i swear it is not too late. >> john and yoko, give peace a chance. imagine. it defined people's political ideas for generations. >> what was the significance of the domino effect or domino theory if any. why didn't lbj make his withdrawal more public? >> the second question i think for you historians is really the most interesting one. why didn't he. and i am not a johnson scholar. i don't have a good sense of this at all. in retrospect and given the case i think i can make and i have given you the surface of a really big case based on lots of vietnamese books and data and songs and culture. and all kinds of stuff.
why didn't he do this? i don't know. my only explanation is the one i gave to you. johnson instint is to slice this. and it is johnson it seems to me who keeps all the secrets inside himself. everything is inside and the other thing that has come out in talking with paul and others. lyndon johnson was a deeply suspicious man. he didn't trust anybody and my guess is for good reason. he had been betrayed more times by more people. so was he the right sort of person to be a leader of the american people in a limited war. the other thing we haven't talked about in a long time and it didn't come up at all in the last 15 years about iraq and afghanistan, what is a limited
war. and what is the degree of national mobilization. korea was a transition point and people have talked about this. we came to vietnam with basically three big wars in our mind, civil war, world war one, and world war ii which were massive mobilization of the entire people for the grand cause and everybody was part of the war. the home front vietnam as we said before, who went over to fight? johnson arranged the economy in various ways to inmyself the economic impact on taxes and other things. one of the decisions made towards the end of the vietnam war which we are living with today and i hear nobody talking about this. president nixon ended the draft and moved to a volunteer army. you see stories every once in a while about young american soldiers who have been on their sixth, eighth, ninth tour in
afghanistan. we don't really have much of a citizen aermrmy. if you don't volunteer, you don't have to worry about a military. most americans have been spared since 1969, whatever, whenever nixon ended the draft. >> the first lottery was '69. and the second was '70. >> something you said having to do with johnson and suspicious nature. one thing that he trusted very much was former president eisenhower. and when he think about the image johnson was being sworn into offers. the image is passing the baton
coming from jack kennedy. eisenhower is going out of office. when johnson leaves office in '69, going to eisenhower's vice president nixon. what was the impact -- here is the phrase, the military industrial come flex on prolonging the war. somebody rermtd this is a phrase that was used by dwight david eisenhower as part of his farewell address. people were amazed that general president eisenhower was saying this. >> you mentioned eisenhower and that gives me a chance to get back to laos. there is a link between that and our hmong minnesotans. the other thing which is traumatic for the man and for us was what i call his abdication
in '68. he steps down. and i have a feeling based on sort of my own feeling at the time that this was a major water shed in the way -- if johnson, he is sending us all to vietnam and if he doesn't believe in it, and if he is stepping down, why should i go. but take it to the people. that communicated something that i thought was it set up this notion that we can't win. we are not going to win. something is wrong. nixon then tries to persevere, oh by the way, the other thing which johnson strategy of turning it over to the vietnamese and passfication, that was called vietnamization.
nixon quote-unquote had a secret man to end the war. he sends laird out to figure out -- he was his secretary of defense to figure out bunker abe -- show him this whole thing. nixon says great, we are getting out. and bunker brokers the deal between them that we are going to leave. so the whole nixon administration is why are we staying one day longer. who wants to be the last american to die in vietnam. but if i can get back to eisenhower, it is overlooked by a lot of scholars and strategist that when kennedy was talking with eisenhower before they went to the inauguration, eisenhower only raised one issue with the incoming president and that was
laos. and kennedy then meets in early '61 to figure out what to do about laos. and the only option they put on the table for kennedy is like two u.s. divisions. and the joint team says laos on the north side of the macon and you can't supply, so kennedy basically says we can't go in. we have to cut a deal. so we have to cut a deal. we quote-unquote neutralize laos. which the north vietnamese don't honor. we need a counter to the north vietnamese presence in laos. we can't send americans. what do with he do? we ask to recruit the hmong. and he builds a hmong army.
we only took out a few. the hmong didn't start to leave until '78. but we now have several thousand hmong in the united states and many here in minnesota. >> just one thing i wanted to flag is this you are talking about march of '67, march of '68. you referred to as johnson's abdication. that is a sunday morning march 31st and comes by murielle's home and says knows that hubert is going to mexico city. and says i am making a public address tonight and i have one of two endings. and one basically says we are going to cover the course. and the other is that i will not run. and he says don't tell murielle this. and he makes that speech which
stuns everyone. the following tuesday morning, he is with bobby kennedy. and bobby kennedy is pressing to find weak spots are you going to be political in this coming year and he responds damn it, if i was going to political, i would run again. it shows extraordinary political moment in presidential life. here is one question that is probably good as we can head towards wrapping this up. thank you for the detail timeline. i think we all do think that. looking at our recent experience with political conflict, how can we learn more from the success of the cords program and your concept of associative power. >> thank you for the question. and i could go on for a long time. let me try to suggest this.
power is actually a continuum. and i take this from clats wis. what does he say about war? war is an extension of politics by other means. war and politics are on the same continuum. politics is let's say overhere with peace. and war is down here with violence. but they are interrelated. the ultimate of peace is totals ego surrender to somebody else and no resistance at all and somewhere in the middle is what? my argument, that is what i call associative power. now we have for 20 or 30 years been conducting our debates of national security at the two
polar ends. hard power and soft power. hard power -- which is the american military doctrine. find them, fix them, fight them. find them, fix them, destroy them. now the current phrase is kinetic operations. soft power is they are going to do what we say, what we like, because they love us. it is a little simplistic. it is the theory at harvard. i give you in terms of the success of soft power, isis, al qaeda. i can give you jinping, putin, a whole bunch of people in the world who don't like us or our values. so why are they going to give us
what we want. in the middle is hard work, sharing spabltds, turning responsibilities over to them and at this point if i may, because i didn't feel i had time earlier, i want to recognize and honor. congressman fraser for title 9 in 1966 which was set up what we did in vietnam. and i brought the copy of the bill. and i brought what you said years ago. you were talking about this notion of power that in our foreign aid if we wanted to help other people, we had to dee centralize opportunity to them. worry about their government, their villages, their families, their opportunities. it is not what we americans think or want to do. it is how do we work with them and i would like to praise, because he belongs in this pantheon of people up here, with
jack kennedy and humphrey, and lyndon b. johnson. he is of that visionary generation. now mayor fraser, as he looks at the problem of achievement gap in north minneapolis, where does his mind take him? it takes him to the kids and the families and the communities in which they live and how do outsiders of goodwill and concern engage with other people together that their outcomes along with theirs outcomes get better. i call that associative power. so i set up a credit program for every village in vietnam. i was 25-years old. as a cords guy in saigon which i didn't want to be, i could give briefings, using the head of
commandser in chief, abrams. i could brief full colon and that. the program was working with vietnamese in the context of their own nationalism. why did it succeed? because of their nationalism. which, again, if i may, goes back to my dad's instincts of '54. >> i'm going to just combine two questions as a final question for you. and you have addressed part of this, but i wanted to see maybe more directly. can you address more deeply how it is possible to claim that cords won when so obvious that the victory didn't hold, and can you, given this, still say there was a win and then related to that, this question, what about henry kissinger's role during this time period? what was he up to? i always shy away from sort of
wrapping things up noeatly. >> this question puts me on the spot, and i cannot fully address it because there's no time, and because there are documents which i found in ellsworth's files which give us a totally new understanding of henry kissinger's role in the negotiations, which i hope to make my next book. but briefly speaking -- briefly speaking -- sorry. i'll get the mike up here while i sort of think about these things. henry kissinger did not believe in cords, did not believe in the south vietnamese, did not believe we were going to win and that colored his negotiations with hanoi and he agreed that hanoi could leave its troops inside south vietnam. okay? the consequence is, cords basically -- i mean, we win the war because we defeat the vie t
cong. the north vietnamese offensive in 1972, they sent down everything they had. all the people in the villages were all -- we took poll surveys. 90% of the people in south vietnam supported the government and thought they were going to win. nobody wanted the communists to win. hanoi sends down all its divisions, the south vietnamese army holds with american air power. not quite like iraq in recent years. south vietnamese stood up and fought. a general takes back -- i mean, they had some brilliant officers. never covered by the american press. so that's why i say cords won. the people got mobilized because the people could mobilize, the south vietnamese government could take all their attention to the main force units in the mountains and by the borders where the american forces were and then the american forces could go home. so by '73, all the american
combat forces have gone home and the south vietnamese are holding their own. however, after the peace agreement, hanoi gets to leave its divisions in the south. what happens in '75? after watergate. this is widely documented. the north vietnamese, they do a test offensive. they attack the provential capital to see if the americans will send the b-52s back. apparently while the attack is going on in this mountainous, sparsely populated province of south vietnam, the bureau is meeting 24/7 with a direct line down to the commanders in the front. when it becomes clear that president ford is not sending the b-52s, le says, comrades, this is our moment, launch the general offensive and a couple of months later, they launch the general offensive, the americans are not there. the south vietnamese collapse. now, henry kissinger, one last
thing. anybody want to guess of the people i named today, who was the person who was most influential in teaching henry kissinger everything he knew about vietnam and the vietnamese? jean, the very frenchman who created ho chi minh is the guy who told henry kissinger what to do in vietnam, which was to respect the communists and disrespect, as deplorable, the vietnamese nationalists. >> i think we couldn't possibly find a better moment to end this. i want to thank, first, professor bob cuterly, under whose auspices the freeman seminar series this, program, is taking place and for everyone who's come, this is a very good indication of the university of minnesota as both a state university and a land grant college and having the community
come into this room which honors hubert humphrey. steve, i predict that the sales and the rentals of the deer hunter, apocalypse now, and platoon will probably go up exponentially in urban minneapolis within the next amount of time. we couldn't possibly say much more except, again, thank you, steve, for this presentation. i think we will -- there are moments that we understand that history cracks, that we can look at those moments, they can be, in march of 1967. they can be march 28 of 2017 that our opinion changes. that's a cracking of history as well. so, i think we can all just continue with this cracking. thank you very much. bye.
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