I am deep into “The American Empire, 1945 – 2000” by Joshua B. Freeman, having read the third and now reading the fourth of a series of USA history, this one by Joshua ‘B. Freeman. This is part of the Forner / Penguin series.
The book is edifying but rather neutered until Freeman reaches the Viet-nam War, then it blazes. It is very hard to read about our mistakes and often foolishness, starting with Dwight D. Eisenhower refusing to support the Geneva Accord calling for re-uniication elections across the North and South of Viet Nam to take place in 1956. The US government Vietnamese civil war was then viewed as China sponsored Communist aggression rather than a war for national liberation. But his is not the issue I wish to address herein.
What I asked myself is what did Douglas MacArthur advise concerning Viet-Nam. Certainly he singularly had a sense of South East Asia.
The best information I could find was part of his extensive biography on Wikipedia. It follows:
“President John F. Kennedy solicited MacArthur’s counsel in 1961. The first of two meetings was held shortly after the Bay of Pigs Invasion. MacArthur was extremely critical of the military advice given to Kennedy, and cautioned the young President to avoid a U.S. military build-up in Vietnam, pointing out that domestic problems should be given a much greater priority. Shortly before his death, MacArthur gave similar advice to President Lyndon B. Johnson.”
Eisenhower / Kennedy. / Johnson, then George W. Bush, and possibly soon Donald Trump. – What harm has befallen the USA an the world because of their mistakes.
George Kennen, Dean Acheson, and Harry Truman had it right. Practice “containment” and in time the Communist would self destruct. Maybe we would be better off today if China had never become a capitalistic nation! (Just kidding.)
Our population is so easily led astray. The misreading of the explosion of the Maine in Cuba, the alleged Tonkin attacks on the US destroyers which in fact were attacking North Viet Nam, the mythical “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq and then 9/11. I recall at the time of 9/11 researching that as many people died a day in the USA from auto accidents. Yes we needed to respond. But any student of Afghanistan geography and history would have been more cautious.
I kept on asking myself and others at the time whether anyone in DC had seen a topographical relief map, the type showing the contours of the world that was popular at the time and available at almost any book store.
Reading American history at times is a very painful task. But more should do it. I highly recommend the Forner series.