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COURSERA: The Modern World, Part Two: Global History since 1910, W5.09 Wars of Containment

W5.09 Wars of Containment

Hi, welcome back. In this presentation we're going to fuse topics of the last two. We're going to bring together what we've said about the Third World, also what we've done in updating the US-Soviet confrontation, which swings back to the Third World in the 1960s. We can see this by doing a tour of four different regions of the world. In Southeast Asia, for example, communist North Vietnam is trying to help South Vietnamese dissidents, Viet Cong guerillas, overthrow the government of South Vietnam that they regard as legitimate and unify the country under a communist leadership. South Vietnamese were fighting back and getting help. But also there were communists supported insurgencies in Malaya, also Indonesia. In both Malaya and Indonesia, the communist parties draw some of their membership from the community of ethnic Chinese descended from Chinese who had migrated to Southeast Asia, many of them in the 1800s So, communism versus anti-communism is a live issue all over Southeast Asia in the early to mid-1960s, with a lot of dynamism coming from the Chinese revolutionary experiment and Mao's ambitious agenda. In the Middle East The superpowers are adopting proxies. New nationalist governments in Syria and Egypt are getting military equipment from the Soviet Union, Soviet military advisers too. The United States is finding its anti-communist allies among some of the traditional Arab monarchies, like that here in Saudi Arabia, where American expertise and private companies are helping them develop their oil resources. And the center of attention is in Israel. This map, from 1967, still only defines Israel in yellow along lines dating from the 1948-49 war and the UN armistice lines. Israelis actually hold all this area in red as well. They're feeling pressed by Syria, by Egypt, by Jordan. There's a war that flares in June 1967 where the Israelis preemptively attacked the forces gathering to attack them, destroying the Egyptian army, beating back the Syrians, defeating the British-trained Jordanian forces, and occupying the West Bank of the Jordan River here, the Golan Heights here, the Sinai Peninsula here, which will later be given back to Egypt in a peace treaty negotiated in the late 1970s. But the importance, for our point of view in world history, is just that, as you have these regional conflicts in the Middle East, the superpowers are becoming sponsors of each side, internationalizing these local struggles. And as for Iran, it's being ruled by the shah, who took power in the coup that was sponsored by the United States and the British in 1953. The shah has also become part of the league of anti-communist monarchies allied with the United States in the 1960s and on into the 1970s. If we turn our attention to Latin America, again communism, anti-communism, proxy fights. I showed you this Time magazine cover from 1959. That positive image of Fidel Castro, having just led the victorious revolution. Time's view of Castro is changing though. By August 1960, Che Guevara is spotlighted, with Khrushchev and Mao in the background, as Time worries about communism's western beachhead. By 1964, Time is fretting along with this US diplomat, Assistant Secretary of State Tom Mann, the assistant secretary for Latin America, responsible for that part of the world in the State Department, with South America characterized quizzically. In this picture you see how Time, like the American government, is searching for that centrist Latin American leader who can find the right path of non-communist development. This cover from 1965 calls attention to a Peruvian president, Belaúnde Terry, as a Latin American architect of hope. Time of course is happy to note Cuba's decaying revolution in this picture showing Fidel Castro preaching onward as the barbed wire strings across the bamboo in the background. In 1967, Time's calling attention to the third path of this Brazilian leader, Costa E. Silva, asking the question: Will Latin America become a success? So, again, concerns about development, Third World futures, all blended together with a communism versus anti-communism struggle and how the U.S. takes sides. In Africa, the United States and the Soviet Union had both taken an interest in the independence battle surrounding the new Democratic Republic of the Congo, in the early 1960s, and other little proxy battles. But Africa will become more a theater of super power confrontation in the 1970s. In the 1960s, a lot of the struggles were still struggles about nation building. Take, for example, the struggle to build a new nation here, in Nigeria, one of the most populous new states in Africa. Nigeria waged a bitter civil war in the late 1960s against the breakaway republic of Biafra, headed by this charismatic colonel, Colonel Ojukwu, educated in England, attractive to the West. Biafra's Agony, publicized here in 1968, ends in a Nigerian victory, consolidating the precarious Nigerian state. But for the remainder of this presentation, I want to zero in on the great Third World struggle of the 1960s and early 1970s: the war in Vietnam. What was going on in Vietnam? It starts in the 1950s, after the French are pushed out. There was supposed to be an election defining a single Vietnamese government. The elections were not held. Vietnam, instead, becomes two states. North Vietnam. Capital: Hanoi. Ruled by the communists. South Vietnam. Capitol city of Saigon. Today known as Ho Chi Minh City. But in Saigon, the ruler is a man named Ngo Dinh Diem. So Hanoi, that's Ho Chi Minh aided by Le Duan. South Vietnam: Ngo Dinh Diem, a charismatic Catholic nationalist who had opposed the French rule. Here's a picture of Ho Chi Minh addressing a meeting a meeting of the North Vietnamese communist leadership. But even by the late 1950s, and especially in the 1960s, Ho becomes more the aging symbol of the leadership and a lot of the real strings of power are being pulled by this man here, Le Duan. Hanoi, North Vietnam decide by 1959 to make an all-out effort to support the struggle to overthrow the South Vietnamese government in the South. First there just funneling military supplies to the Viet Cong guerrillas. Eventually they'll raise the stakes by sending regular North Vietnamese troops into South Vietnam. They do that, along what came to be known as the Ho Chi Minh trail. This kind of gives you the geography of Indochina in the 1960s. This is kind of a schematic image of the Ho Chi Minh trail that uses neutral and weakly ruled Laos to move the arms through, as well as using neutral and weakly ruled Cambodia as transit point. A more detailed close-up image, here, shows some of the key passages through which arms, and eventually troops, were moved out of North Vietnam and moved down into all these different infiltration areas into South Vietnam. So what to do about that? From the point of view of Washington, what do you do? Well, their initial answer is: We'll just give military supplies of our own to South Vietnam. North Vietnam sees that and say: What do we do? They've already been getting some of their military equipment even during the war of independence, from China. They get more military equipment from the Chinese. So the Chinese were supplying the North Vietnamese, who are supplying their allies in the South. The Americans are supplying the South Vietnamese government; the war intensifies. Washington is pinning its hopes on that nationals leader Ngo Dinh Diem. He and his relative, the Nhu family, are increasingly controversial with different parts of the South Vietnamese population because of their dictatorial or high-handed style, the alienation from some of these Catholic elite with Buddhists in the population. But Diem is a rather competent, capable figure. Here he is being warmly greeted by President Eisenhower and Secretary of State Dulles. But by 1963, Americans are wondering, gee, what do we do here? Diem is faltering, perhaps, and you have the classic dilemma for a foreign government that's engaging with some local government someplace else. Do you bolster a flawed government or abandon a flawed government or something in the middle? Bolster the flawed government, you're helping the folks who are on your side, but maybe they won't change. And after all these are the flaws that are creating some of the problems you have now. So then do you give your assistance with conditions? How do you enforce those conditions? What control do you insist on having to make sure your advice is followed? So if you give the help unconditionally, you're just bolstering a flawed government. If you give the help with conditionally, you've got to exert more control. So suppose you shrug your shoulders and say, this is too hard. We'll just abandon and give it up. But the other side is not giving up. They're helping their side in the cause, the Chinese are helping the North Vietnamese. So if you abandon the situation and they don't, aren't you really saying that across the Third World we're resigning from the game and they get to play in all these fragile countries. You can see the logic, you can see the fundamental dilemma. It's a hard problem. In 1963, the American government is divided on how to do conditional help. Do we need to move the Diem government out of the way to get a better government in its place? The quarrel in Washington leads to blurry advice to the field in 1963. The Americans give some signals to South Vietnamese coup plotters. The result is a coup that overthrows Diem The coup plotters kill him. What I want to do now, is again take you into a time machine. Let you listen to President Kennedy as he muses on what has just happened. Kennedy is basically picking up a dictaphone, an Old-fashioned tape recording device, you'll hear the dicta belt kind of lapping as it goes around the spool again and again. Kennedy is dictating the machine, putting aside tapes for later transcription. They'll never end up being transcribed. Kennedy will be assassinated later that month. But he's dictating reflections, possibly for use in a later memoir, capturing his thoughts at the moment as he tries to make sense of what's just happened - to what the Americans have helped do in South Vietnam. Let's listen. » Monday, November 4th, 1963. Over the weekend, the, coup in Saigon took place. It culminated, three months of, - [SOUND] Conversation about a coup comma conversation which divided the government here and in Saigon. Opposed to a coup was General Taylor, the Attorney General [INAUDIBLE] Secretary McNamara, to a somewhat less degree. John McCone, partly because an old hostility to Lodge which causes him to lack confidence in Lodge's judgement, comma partly, as a result of a new hostility. semi colon, in favor of the coup was State, led Averell Harriman, George Ball, Roger Hilsman, supported by Mike Forrestal at the White House. [NOISE] I, feel that we must bear a good deal of responsibility for it, beginning with our cable or early August in which we Suggested the coup. In my judgment that wire was badly drafted it should never have been sent on a Saturday. I should not have given my consent to it without a roundtable conference at which McNamara and Taylor could have presented their views. While we did redress that balance in later wires, that first wire encouraged Lodge along a course to which he was in any case inclined. Harkins continued to oppose the coup on the ground that the military effort was doing well. There was a sharp split between Saigon and the rest of the country. Politically the situation was deteriorating. Militarily, it had not had its effect. There was a feeling, however, that it would. For this reason, Secretary McNamara and General Taylor supported applying additional pressures to Diem and Nhu in order to move them. I was shocked by the death of Diem and Nhu. I'd med Diem with Justice Douglas many years ago. He was an extraordinary character. While he became increasingly difficult in the last months, nevertheless over a ten-year period he'd held his country together, maintained its independence under very adverse conditions. The way he was killed made it particularly abhorrent. The question now is whether the generals can stay together and build a stable government or whether Saigon will begin, will turn on public opinion in Saigon, the intellectuals, students, et cetera will tern on this government as repressive. And undemocratic in the not too distant future. » You've heard Kennedy think out loud about the dilemma he faces, and how to go forward with South Vietnam. How let me take you through that time machine again, into another intimate conversation. This one is also at the top of the American government. It's at the end of May 1964. The new president is Lyndon Johnson. In this extraordinary conversation, he's on the phone with his longtime mentor, the seasoned Southern senator and chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Richard Russell. A word about Russell. Russell speaks in kind of that folksy, heavily accented Southern way, but he's a very seasoned hand. He's the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Moreover, Russell is known to the country as a tough, anti-communist conservative, a supporter of a big military. So you can listen to him here in private, voicing his very real doubts on just what it is we're doing over there in South Vietnam. You can hear how Johnson both shares those doubts but feels trapped, can't seem to think of a way out. Well, let's just listen to these two old friends talk to each other about the problem their country faces. There at the end of May 1964. » Pretty good. How are you Mr President? » Oh, I'm, got lots of troubles. I want to see what you. » We all have those. » What do you think about this Vietnam thing? What, what, I'd like to hear you talk a little bit. » Well, frankly Mr President if you were to tell me that I was authorize to settle it as I saw fit I would respectfully decline to undertake it. It's the damned worst mess I ever saw, and I don't like to brag. I never have been right many times in my life, but I knew we were going to get into this sort of mess when we went in there. And I don't see how we're going to ever get out without fighting a major war with the Chinese and all of them down there in those rice paddies and jungles. [INAUDIBLE] I just don't know what to do. That's what I've been feeling for six months. [CROSSTALK] It appears that our position is deteriorating and it looks like the more we try to do for them, the less they're willing to do for themselves. It's a, it's just a sad situation. There's no sense of responsibility there on the part of any of their leaders apparently. It's all just through generations, or even centuries Just thought about the individual and glorifying the individual, and that's the only utilization of power is just to glorify the individual and not to save the state or to help other people. And they, they, they just can't shed themselves of that complex. It's a, It's a Hell of, a hell of a situation, it's a mess. And it's going to get worse, and I don't know, I don't know how, what to do. If I don't think the American people are quite ready for us to send our troops in there to do the fighting. And if came down to an option of just sending Americans in there We were fighting which will, of course, eventually lead into a, a ground war and a conventional war with China, and we'd do them a favor every time we'd kill a coolie, whereas, if one of our people got killed it'd be a loss to us. If it got down to that or just pulling out, I'd get out. But then, I don't know. There's undoubtedly some middle ground somewhere. If I was going to get out, I'd get the same crowd that got rid of old Diem to get rid of these people and get some fella in there that said he wished to hell we would get out. That would give us a good excuse for getting out. I, I just it, it, it ,it's a, I see no terminal date or boy oh boy, any part of that in there. How important is it to us? » It isn't important a damn bit. » [NOISE] » Well, I don't know. We don't look too good right now. [LAUGH] And, Of course, you'd look pretty good, I guess, going in there with all the troops and sending them all in there. But I tell you, it'll, it'll be the most expensive adventure this country ever went into before you. » I've got a little old sergeant that works for me over at the house and he's got six children. And I just put him up as the United States Army and Air Force and Navy every time I think about making this decision and think about sending that father of those six kids in there. And what the hell are we going to get out of his doing it? And it just makes the chills run up my back. » It does me. I just can't see it. » I just haven't got the nerve to do it, and I don't see any other way out of it. » You've got too much sense to do it. » I just couldn't wait. » The key is, it is one of these things where heads I win, tails you lose. Well, think about it, and I'll talk to you again. I hate to bother you, but I'm just » I wish I could help you. God knows I do, because it's a terrific quandry that we're in over there. We're just in the quick sands up to our very necks. And I just don't know what the hell is the best way to do about it. » I love you and I'll be talking to you » I'll see you soon Johnson is unable to solve his dilemma. He temporizes through the rest of 1964, gets re-elected with an overwhelming majority, but then, increasingly convinced that he has to stand up to communism, oversees a dramatic escalation of the American effort in which the trap just gets deeper and deeper. By the end of 1968, more than 500,000 American combat troops are deployed in South Vietnam. They're dying at rates of hundreds of soldiers a week. American aircraft are raining bombs on North Vietnam, on the infiltration trails in Laos and Cambodia, on suspected enemy sites in South Vietnam itself, more bombs being dropped in Indochina than America had dropped during all of World War II on Germany. It's not enough. The Americans think about invading North Vietnam. By 1965, and increasingly by 1968, regular North Vietnamese soldiers are moving into South Vietnam to attack. So why wouldn't America and the South Vietnamese counterattack against North Vietnam, put North Vietnam directly at risk with a counter invasion? Here's why: Because the Chinese are involved, too. The Chinese have stationed tens of thousands of their own soldiers, as advisers, suppliers, manning anti-aircraft batteries, all over North Vietnam. The Chinese have warned the Americans that if they invade North Vietnam, they'll have a war with China on their hands. The Americans, remembering the Korean precedent, stay back. They, in other words, agree to fight the war on North Vietnamese and Chinese terms, fighting it strictly on the South Vietnamese terrain, hoping just to use bombing to intimidate the North Vietnamese and make them bleed so much that they'll give up. But they don't give up. The war goes on. It'll end up being the Americans whose will breaks first. I want to dwell now, for just a moment though, on the significance of this war in Southeast Asia. Of course the war is significant in its own right, enormous numbers of people killed, enormous devastation. But think of this as an episode in world history. And it still is important, even at that scale. It's important because the Vietnamese war becomes a huge dividing moment inside the United States, splitting the country, making it question itself, its ideals, the kind of nation it is. It becomes a huge moment in Southeast Asia, too, in several different ways. Of course there's the damage done in Indochina itself, the way Laos and Cambodia got swept up in the war. But it also creates a polarized communist vs. anti-communist conflict throughout the region. In September 1965, military officers in the Indonesian army lead a coup that overthrows Sukarno because they fear, with some cause, that the Chinese communists are getting ready to launch a coup of their own. The generals in Indonesia not only overthrow Sukarno, not only purge the Communist Party in Indonesia, but lead massacres that cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Indonesians who are purged to cement a new military-sponsored dictatorship, right wing dictatorship, in Indonesia. Outside of Indochina, the anti-communists hold the line and meanwhile Communist China itself is imploding in its own Cultural Revolution that we'll discuss next time. Vietnam is significant in America, it's significant in Southeast Asia, and it becomes a symbol of the limits of containment, the limits of anti-communist fervor all over the world. Here you see a demonstration in London in the middle of the 1960's, while the war is just getting going in earnest, in which young people are calling on British Prime Minister Wilson to quit supporting the US war, support UN Secretary General U Thant, not US President Johnson. These demonstrations won't just be in London. They'll be in Paris, Berlin, Rome, spreading all over the world as the Vietnam War becomes a global cause: Which side are you on?, as the Cold War itself becomes a cultural litmus test in a changing world that we'll talk more about next week. See you then. [BLANK_AUDIO]



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W5.09 Wars of Containment

Hi, welcome back. In this presentation we're going to fuse topics of the last two. We're going to bring together what we've said about the Third World, also what we've done in updating the US-Soviet confrontation, which swings back to the Third World in the 1960s. We can see this by doing a tour of four different regions of the world. In Southeast Asia, for example, communist North Vietnam is trying to help South Vietnamese dissidents, Viet Cong guerillas, overthrow the government of South Vietnam that they regard as legitimate and unify the country under a communist leadership. South Vietnamese were fighting back and getting help. But also there were communists supported insurgencies in Malaya, also Indonesia. In both Malaya and Indonesia, the communist parties draw some of their membership from the community of ethnic Chinese descended from Chinese who had migrated to Southeast Asia, many of them in the 1800s So, communism versus anti-communism is a live issue all over Southeast Asia in the early to mid-1960s, with a lot of dynamism coming from the Chinese revolutionary experiment and Mao's ambitious agenda. In the Middle East The superpowers are adopting proxies. New nationalist governments in Syria and Egypt are getting military equipment from the Soviet Union, Soviet military advisers too. The United States is finding its anti-communist allies among some of the traditional Arab monarchies, like that here in Saudi Arabia, where American expertise and private companies are helping them develop their oil resources. And the center of attention is in Israel. This map, from 1967, still only defines Israel in yellow along lines dating from the 1948-49 war and the UN armistice lines. Israelis actually hold all this area in red as well. They're feeling pressed by Syria, by Egypt, by Jordan. There's a war that flares in June 1967 where the Israelis preemptively attacked the forces gathering to attack them, destroying the Egyptian army, beating back the Syrians, defeating the British-trained Jordanian forces, and occupying the West Bank of the Jordan River here, the Golan Heights here, the Sinai Peninsula here, which will later be given back to Egypt in a peace treaty negotiated in the late 1970s. But the importance, for our point of view in world history, is just that, as you have these regional conflicts in the Middle East, the superpowers are becoming sponsors of each side, internationalizing these local struggles. And as for Iran, it's being ruled by the shah, who took power in the coup that was sponsored by the United States and the British in 1953. The shah has also become part of the league of anti-communist monarchies allied with the United States in the 1960s and on into the 1970s. If we turn our attention to Latin America, again communism, anti-communism, proxy fights. I showed you this Time magazine cover from 1959. That positive image of Fidel Castro, having just led the victorious revolution. Time's view of Castro is changing though. By August 1960, Che Guevara is spotlighted, with Khrushchev and Mao in the background, as Time worries about communism's western beachhead. By 1964, Time is fretting along with this US diplomat, Assistant Secretary of State Tom Mann, the assistant secretary for Latin America, responsible for that part of the world in the State Department, with South America characterized quizzically. In this picture you see how Time, like the American government, is searching for that centrist Latin American leader who can find the right path of non-communist development. This cover from 1965 calls attention to a Peruvian president, Belaúnde Terry, as a Latin American architect of hope. Time of course is happy to note Cuba's decaying revolution in this picture showing Fidel Castro preaching onward as the barbed wire strings across the bamboo in the background. In 1967, Time's calling attention to the third path of this Brazilian leader, Costa E. Silva, asking the question: Will Latin America become a success? So, again, concerns about development, Third World futures, all blended together with a communism versus anti-communism struggle and how the U.S. takes sides. In Africa, the United States and the Soviet Union had both taken an interest in the independence battle surrounding the new Democratic Republic of the Congo, in the early 1960s, and other little proxy battles. But Africa will become more a theater of super power confrontation in the 1970s. In the 1960s, a lot of the struggles were still struggles about nation building. Take, for example, the struggle to build a new nation here, in Nigeria, one of the most populous new states in Africa. Nigeria waged a bitter civil war in the late 1960s against the breakaway republic of Biafra, headed by this charismatic colonel, Colonel Ojukwu, educated in England, attractive to the West. Biafra's Agony, publicized here in 1968, ends in a Nigerian victory, consolidating the precarious Nigerian state. But for the remainder of this presentation, I want to zero in on the great Third World struggle of the 1960s and early 1970s: the war in Vietnam. What was going on in Vietnam? It starts in the 1950s, after the French are pushed out. There was supposed to be an election defining a single Vietnamese government. The elections were not held. Vietnam, instead, becomes two states. North Vietnam. Capital: Hanoi. Ruled by the communists. South Vietnam. Capitol city of Saigon. Today known as Ho Chi Minh City. But in Saigon, the ruler is a man named Ngo Dinh Diem. So Hanoi, that's Ho Chi Minh aided by Le Duan. South Vietnam: Ngo Dinh Diem, a charismatic Catholic nationalist who had opposed the French rule. Here's a picture of Ho Chi Minh addressing a meeting a meeting of the North Vietnamese communist leadership. But even by the late 1950s, and especially in the 1960s, Ho becomes more the aging symbol of the leadership and a lot of the real strings of power are being pulled by this man here, Le Duan. Hanoi, North Vietnam decide by 1959 to make an all-out effort to support the struggle to overthrow the South Vietnamese government in the South. First there just funneling military supplies to the Viet Cong guerrillas. Eventually they'll raise the stakes by sending regular North Vietnamese troops into South Vietnam. They do that, along what came to be known as the Ho Chi Minh trail. This kind of gives you the geography of Indochina in the 1960s. This is kind of a schematic image of the Ho Chi Minh trail that uses neutral and weakly ruled Laos to move the arms through, as well as using neutral and weakly ruled Cambodia as transit point. A more detailed close-up image, here, shows some of the key passages through which arms, and eventually troops, were moved out of North Vietnam and moved down into all these different infiltration areas into South Vietnam. So what to do about that? From the point of view of Washington, what do you do? Well, their initial answer is: We'll just give military supplies of our own to South Vietnam. North Vietnam sees that and say: What do we do? They've already been getting some of their military equipment even during the war of independence, from China. They get more military equipment from the Chinese. So the Chinese were supplying the North Vietnamese, who are supplying their allies in the South. The Americans are supplying the South Vietnamese government; the war intensifies. Washington is pinning its hopes on that nationals leader Ngo Dinh Diem. He and his relative, the Nhu family, are increasingly controversial with different parts of the South Vietnamese population because of their dictatorial or high-handed style, the alienation from some of these Catholic elite with Buddhists in the population. But Diem is a rather competent, capable figure. Here he is being warmly greeted by President Eisenhower and Secretary of State Dulles. But by 1963, Americans are wondering, gee, what do we do here? Diem is faltering, perhaps, and you have the classic dilemma for a foreign government that's engaging with some local government someplace else. Do you bolster a flawed government or abandon a flawed government or something in the middle? Bolster the flawed government, you're helping the folks who are on your side, but maybe they won't change. And after all these are the flaws that are creating some of the problems you have now. So then do you give your assistance with conditions? How do you enforce those conditions? What control do you insist on having to make sure your advice is followed? So if you give the help unconditionally, you're just bolstering a flawed government. If you give the help with conditionally, you've got to exert more control. So suppose you shrug your shoulders and say, this is too hard. We'll just abandon and give it up. But the other side is not giving up. They're helping their side in the cause, the Chinese are helping the North Vietnamese. So if you abandon the situation and they don't, aren't you really saying that across the Third World we're resigning from the game and they get to play in all these fragile countries. You can see the logic, you can see the fundamental dilemma. It's a hard problem. In 1963, the American government is divided on how to do conditional help. Do we need to move the Diem government out of the way to get a better government in its place? The quarrel in Washington leads to blurry advice to the field in 1963. The Americans give some signals to South Vietnamese coup plotters. The result is a coup that overthrows Diem The coup plotters kill him. What I want to do now, is again take you into a time machine. Let you listen to President Kennedy as he muses on what has just happened. Kennedy is basically picking up a dictaphone, an Old-fashioned tape recording device, you'll hear the dicta belt kind of lapping as it goes around the spool again and again. Kennedy is dictating the machine, putting aside tapes for later transcription. They'll never end up being transcribed. Kennedy will be assassinated later that month. But he's dictating reflections, possibly for use in a later memoir, capturing his thoughts at the moment as he tries to make sense of what's just happened - to what the Americans have helped do in South Vietnam. Let's listen. » Monday, November 4th, 1963. Over the weekend, the, coup in Saigon took place. It culminated, three months of, - [SOUND] Conversation about a coup comma conversation which divided the government here and in Saigon. Opposed to a coup was General Taylor, the Attorney General [INAUDIBLE] Secretary McNamara, to a somewhat less degree. John McCone, partly because an old hostility to Lodge which causes him to lack confidence in Lodge's judgement, comma partly, as a result of a new hostility. semi colon, in favor of the coup was State, led Averell Harriman, George Ball, Roger Hilsman, supported by Mike Forrestal at the White House. [NOISE] I, feel that we must bear a good deal of responsibility for it, beginning with our cable or early August in which we Suggested the coup. In my judgment that wire was badly drafted it should never have been sent on a Saturday. I should not have given my consent to it without a roundtable conference at which McNamara and Taylor could have presented their views. While we did redress that balance in later wires, that first wire encouraged Lodge along a course to which he was in any case inclined. Harkins continued to oppose the coup on the ground that the military effort was doing well. There was a sharp split between Saigon and the rest of the country. Politically the situation was deteriorating. Militarily, it had not had its effect. There was a feeling, however, that it would. For this reason, Secretary McNamara and General Taylor supported applying additional pressures to Diem and Nhu in order to move them. I was shocked by the death of Diem and Nhu. I'd med Diem with Justice Douglas many years ago. He was an extraordinary character. While he became increasingly difficult in the last months, nevertheless over a ten-year period he'd held his country together, maintained its independence under very adverse conditions. The way he was killed made it particularly abhorrent. The question now is whether the generals can stay together and build a stable government or whether Saigon will begin, will turn on public opinion in Saigon, the intellectuals, students, et cetera will tern on this government as repressive. And undemocratic in the not too distant future. » You've heard Kennedy think out loud about the dilemma he faces, and how to go forward with South Vietnam. How let me take you through that time machine again, into another intimate conversation. This one is also at the top of the American government. It's at the end of May 1964. The new president is Lyndon Johnson. In this extraordinary conversation, he's on the phone with his longtime mentor, the seasoned Southern senator and chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Richard Russell. A word about Russell. Russell speaks in kind of that folksy, heavily accented Southern way, but he's a very seasoned hand. He's the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Moreover, Russell is known to the country as a tough, anti-communist conservative, a supporter of a big military. So you can listen to him here in private, voicing his very real doubts on just what it is we're doing over there in South Vietnam. You can hear how Johnson both shares those doubts but feels trapped, can't seem to think of a way out. Well, let's just listen to these two old friends talk to each other about the problem their country faces. There at the end of May 1964. » Pretty good. How are you Mr President? » Oh, I'm, got lots of troubles. I want to see what you. » We all have those. » What do you think about this Vietnam thing? What, what, I'd like to hear you talk a little bit. » Well, frankly Mr President if you were to tell me that I was authorize to settle it as I saw fit I would respectfully decline to undertake it. It's the damned worst mess I ever saw, and I don't like to brag. I never have been right many times in my life, but I knew we were going to get into this sort of mess when we went in there. And I don't see how we're going to ever get out without fighting a major war with the Chinese and all of them down there in those rice paddies and jungles. [INAUDIBLE] I just don't know what to do. That's what I've been feeling for six months. [CROSSTALK] It appears that our position is deteriorating and it looks like the more we try to do for them, the less they're willing to do for themselves. It's a, it's just a sad situation. There's no sense of responsibility there on the part of any of their leaders apparently. It's all just through generations, or even centuries Just thought about the individual and glorifying the individual, and that's the only utilization of power is just to glorify the individual and not to save the state or to help other people. And they, they, they just can't shed themselves of that complex. It's a, It's a Hell of, a hell of a situation, it's a mess. And it's going to get worse, and I don't know, I don't know how, what to do. If I don't think the American people are quite ready for us to send our troops in there to do the fighting. And if came down to an option of just sending Americans in there We were fighting which will, of course, eventually lead into a, a ground war and a conventional war with China, and we'd do them a favor every time we'd kill a coolie, whereas, if one of our people got killed it'd be a loss to us. If it got down to that or just pulling out, I'd get out. But then, I don't know. There's undoubtedly some middle ground somewhere. If I was going to get out, I'd get the same crowd that got rid of old Diem to get rid of these people and get some fella in there that said he wished to hell we would get out. That would give us a good excuse for getting out. I, I just it, it, it ,it's a, I see no terminal date or boy oh boy, any part of that in there. How important is it to us? » It isn't important a damn bit. » [NOISE] » Well, I don't know. We don't look too good right now. [LAUGH] And, Of course, you'd look pretty good, I guess, going in there with all the troops and sending them all in there. But I tell you, it'll, it'll be the most expensive adventure this country ever went into before you. » I've got a little old sergeant that works for me over at the house and he's got six children. And I just put him up as the United States Army and Air Force and Navy every time I think about making this decision and think about sending that father of those six kids in there. And what the hell are we going to get out of his doing it? And it just makes the chills run up my back. » It does me. I just can't see it. » I just haven't got the nerve to do it, and I don't see any other way out of it. » You've got too much sense to do it. » I just couldn't wait. » The key is, it is one of these things where heads I win, tails you lose. Well, think about it, and I'll talk to you again. I hate to bother you, but I'm just » I wish I could help you. God knows I do, because it's a terrific quandry that we're in over there. We're just in the quick sands up to our very necks. And I just don't know what the hell is the best way to do about it. » I love you and I'll be talking to you » I'll see you soon Johnson is unable to solve his dilemma. He temporizes through the rest of 1964, gets re-elected with an overwhelming majority, but then, increasingly convinced that he has to stand up to communism, oversees a dramatic escalation of the American effort in which the trap just gets deeper and deeper. By the end of 1968, more than 500,000 American combat troops are deployed in South Vietnam. They're dying at rates of hundreds of soldiers a week. American aircraft are raining bombs on North Vietnam, on the infiltration trails in Laos and Cambodia, on suspected enemy sites in South Vietnam itself, more bombs being dropped in Indochina than America had dropped during all of World War II on Germany. It's not enough. The Americans think about invading North Vietnam. By 1965, and increasingly by 1968, regular North Vietnamese soldiers are moving into South Vietnam to attack. So why wouldn't America and the South Vietnamese counterattack against North Vietnam, put North Vietnam directly at risk with a counter invasion? Here's why: Because the Chinese are involved, too. The Chinese have stationed tens of thousands of their own soldiers, as advisers, suppliers, manning anti-aircraft batteries, all over North Vietnam. The Chinese have warned the Americans that if they invade North Vietnam, they'll have a war with China on their hands. The Americans, remembering the Korean precedent, stay back. They, in other words, agree to fight the war on North Vietnamese and Chinese terms, fighting it strictly on the South Vietnamese terrain, hoping just to use bombing to intimidate the North Vietnamese and make them bleed so much that they'll give up. But they don't give up. The war goes on. It'll end up being the Americans whose will breaks first. I want to dwell now, for just a moment though, on the significance of this war in Southeast Asia. Of course the war is significant in its own right, enormous numbers of people killed, enormous devastation. But think of this as an episode in world history. And it still is important, even at that scale. It's important because the Vietnamese war becomes a huge dividing moment inside the United States, splitting the country, making it question itself, its ideals, the kind of nation it is. It becomes a huge moment in Southeast Asia, too, in several different ways. Of course there's the damage done in Indochina itself, the way Laos and Cambodia got swept up in the war. But it also creates a polarized communist vs. anti-communist conflict throughout the region. In September 1965, military officers in the Indonesian army lead a coup that overthrows Sukarno because they fear, with some cause, that the Chinese communists are getting ready to launch a coup of their own. The generals in Indonesia not only overthrow Sukarno, not only purge the Communist Party in Indonesia, but lead massacres that cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Indonesians who are purged to cement a new military-sponsored dictatorship, right wing dictatorship, in Indonesia. Outside of Indochina, the anti-communists hold the line and meanwhile Communist China itself is imploding in its own Cultural Revolution that we'll discuss next time. Vietnam is significant in America, it's significant in Southeast Asia, and it becomes a symbol of the limits of containment, the limits of anti-communist fervor all over the world. Here you see a demonstration in London in the middle of the 1960's, while the war is just getting going in earnest, in which young people are calling on British Prime Minister Wilson to quit supporting the US war, support UN Secretary General U Thant, not US President Johnson. These demonstrations won't just be in London. They'll be in Paris, Berlin, Rome, spreading all over the world as the Vietnam War becomes a global cause: Which side are you on?, as the Cold War itself becomes a cultural litmus test in a changing world that we'll talk more about next week. See you then. [BLANK_AUDIO]

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