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President Eisenhower's Thoughts on Vietnam <br />(Why Vietnam, 1965)President Eisenhower's Thoughts on Vietnam
(Why Vietnam, 1965)
Here is a segment of the letter many historians tend to agree was the one document that lead to the American involvement in the Vietnam War. Written in the Spring of 1954 when the French military was in the throes of losing the Battle of Điện Biên Phủ, President Eisenhower reached out to the former British Prime Minister to express his concerns regarding the place of Vietnam within the strategic structure of the Pacific and openly wondered what a Communist Vietnam would mean in the balance of power.

"If I may refer again to history; we failed to halt Hirohito, Mussolini and Hitler by not acting in unity and in time. That marked the beginning of many years of stark tragedy and desperate peril. May it not be that our nations have learned something from that lesson?..."

In 1954 the French gave up on Vietnam and the U.S. accepted the challenge - click here to read about it...

Click here to read an article about American public opinion during the early Cold War years

More about Winston Churchill can be read here.

President Eisenhower's Letter to President Diem<BR> <br />(Why Vietnam, 1965)President Eisenhower's Letter to President Diem

(Why Vietnam, 1965)
In the Fall of 1954, following the French withdraw from Vietnam, President Eisenhower wrote the following letter to the president of the newly established nation of South Vietnam, Ngô Đ́nh Diệm (1901 – 1963) pledging to provide both funding and military aid in their fight against the Communists.

"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 undertaking needed reforms. It is hoped that such aid, combined with your own continuing efforts, will contribute effectively toward an independent Vietnam endowed with a strong government. Such government would, I hope, be responsive to the nationalist aspirations of its people, so enlightened in purpose and effective performance, that it will be respected both at home and abroad..."

President Kennedy to President Diem <BR><br />(Why Vietnam, 1965)President Kennedy to President Diem

(Why Vietnam, 1965)
The 1961 letter from U.S. President John Kennedy in which he remarked to President Diem that North Vietnam was in violation of the 1954 Geneva Accords that it was obliged to respect. President Kennedy acknowledged that the relentless offensives launched by the North Vietnamese Communists against South Vietnam needed to be stopped and as a result his administration intended to increase American military aid.

Click here to read a 1961 article about Jacqueline Kennedy's influence on American fashion.

Ho Chi-Minh on the March... <br />(Collier's Magazine, 1947)Ho Chi-Minh on the March...
(Collier's Magazine, 1947)
A 1947 article reporting on the French desire to maintain their colonies in Indo-China, and their conflict with a Moscow-trained revolutionary Marxist (and Paris-trained pastry chef) named Ho Chi-Minh (1890 – 1969).

Click here to read about American communists and their Soviet overlords.

Vietminh Power Struggle? <br />(The New Leader Magazine, 1951)Vietminh Power Struggle?
(The New Leader Magazine, 1951)
During the earliest days of 1951 many journalists and intelligence analysts in the West thought Ho Chi Minh's prolonged absence from public view meant a coup d'état had taken place within the Viet Minh hierarchy. These same minds held that the most likely candidate to launch such a power play was Ho's number two: Dang Xuan Khu (1907 - 1988). This article goes into some detail explaining who he was and what he'd been up to for the past forty years.
President Eisenhower's Second Letter to Diem<BR> <br />(Why Vietnam, 1965)President Eisenhower's Second Letter to Diem

(Why Vietnam, 1965)
Marking the fifth anniversary of Vietnam's independence from French rule, President Eisenhower wrote an official letter of congratulations to President Diem. The president clearly cautioned that Diem should not anticipate seeing any American boots on the ground, but American aid would continue to flow:

"Vietnam's very success as well as its potential wealth and strategic location have led the Communists of Hanoi, goaded by the bitterness of their failure to enslave all Vietnam, to use increasing violence in their attempts to destroy your country's freedom...Although the main responsibility for guarding that independence will always, as it has in the past, belong to the Vietnamese people and their government, I want to assure you that for so long as our strength can be useful, the United States will continue to assist Vietnam in the difficult yet hopeful struggle ahead."

The Search for an Honorable Exit <br />(Pageant Magazine, 1970)The Search for an Honorable Exit
(Pageant Magazine, 1970)
Using a public forum, retired U.S. Air Force General Edward Lansdale (1908 – 1987) proposed a plan for the withdrawal of American and Allied Forces from Vietnam - a plan that came to be known as "Vietnamization".
1963: A Pivotal Year  <br />(United States News, 1963)1963: A Pivotal Year
(United States News, 1963)
The 1963 struggle in Vietnam was important for a number of reasons: as the year began the world saw the first major defeat for the Army of the Republic of Vietnam at the hands of the Viet Cong guerrillas at Ap Bac. Five months later Buddhist clergymen revealed their deep distaste for the war effort which quickly resulted in the Diem administration putting numerous Buddhist pagodas to the torch. Ngo Dinh Diem himself would be put to the torch in November when he and his brother would be overthrown in an American-backed coup. Historians have long maintained that by meddling in the internal political affairs of South Vietnam, JFK had unwittingly doomed any chance for their self-reliance; following the November coup, that country became more and more reliant upon the United States - and when the U.S. abandoned the cause of a free and independent South Vietnam, their fate was sealed.
What To Do About Diem? <br />(United States News, 1963)What To Do About Diem?
(United States News, 1963)
Here is an article by a respected American journalist who was dispatched to South Vietnam in order that he might see for himself what the problems were as to why the Republic of Vietnam seemed so incapable of maintaining military dominance in the field. Everywhere he went he got the same answer:

"A highly respected professor at Saigon University [remarked]:
'If you have to make a choice between supporting the Ngo family
and withdrawing from South Vietnam, you might as well pull out.
You cannot win with the family.'"

The Difficulties of This War <br />(United States News, 1963)The Difficulties of This War
(United States News, 1963)
A highly quotable article from 1963 that articulates precisely how deeply organized the Communist guerrillas were in the Vietnam War.

"The Reds fight a fluid war that may last for years. They do not make the mistake of saying the war will be won in three, five or ten years."

''The Strange War the U.S. Is Not Winning'' <br />(United States News, 1963)''The Strange War the U.S. Is Not Winning''
(United States News, 1963)
"It's a dirty, vicious war that Americans are [waging] in the swamps of South Vietnam. Men forget about the politics of Saigon when they stand gun to gun with the Communist guerrillas..."
Goldwater on Vietnam <br />(Coronet Magazine, 1966)Goldwater on Vietnam
(Coronet Magazine, 1966)
Throughout the course of the Vietnam War there was no greater Hawk on Capitol Hill than United States Senator Barry Goldwater (1909 - 1998). In the attached interview from 1966 the Senator chastises President Johnson for failing to seize the initiative and correctly predicted that if the Americans did not show greater pugnacity, they would be "run out of South Vietnam".

You can read more about Senator Barry Goldwater here...

Letters from Vietnam <br />(Coronet Magazine, 1967)Letters from Vietnam
(Coronet Magazine, 1967)
"[Here is] a portrait of the war by those who know it best - the men at the front... In these affecting pages are the unadorned voices of men and women who fought – and, in some cases, fell – in America’s most controversial war. They bring new insights and imagery to a conflict that still haunts our hearts, consciences, and the conduct of our foreign policy."
''Uncle Ho Strikes Back'' <br />(Pathfinder Magazine, 1950)''Uncle Ho Strikes Back''
(Pathfinder Magazine, 1950)
Three years before the total French withdrawal from Vietnam, this one Frenchman summed up his comrade's frustrations concerning their battles against the Viet Minh:

"We can't win a guerrilla war unless we have the support of the people. Frankly, we have not got it. Hitler or the Russians could conquer this country in two months with mass executions, wholesale reprisals and concentration camps. To fight this war and remain humanitarian is difficult."

''While Brave Men Die'' <br />(American Opinion, 1967)''While Brave Men Die''
(American Opinion, 1967)
"One terrible and overwhelming fact must be faced: Our soldiers and our pilots are being maimed and killed fighting a war that they are not being allowed to win. The Johnson Administration is not keeping faith with the men who must fight this war, with the half-million super-patriots, the half-million anti-Communists, who are fighting and dying in action against the forces of the International Communist Conspiracy."

Prolonging The Vietnam War<BR> <br />(American Opinion Magazine, 1967)Prolonging The Vietnam War

(American Opinion Magazine, 1967)
"While thousands of American men lay down their lives in a cruel jungle war, our own president is urging us to trade with the Kremlin that is financing this war and providing the main source of supply to the enemy."
More Letters From Vietnam <br />(Coronet Magazine, 1970)More Letters From Vietnam
(Coronet Magazine, 1970)
The French Return To Vietnam <br />(Newsweek Magazine, 1945)The French Return To Vietnam
(Newsweek Magazine, 1945)
"In South China, 6,000 French troops stood ready to reenter French Indo-China. A portion of the French fleet and a French air force unit prepared to back them up."

"We are definitely taking over".

In 1954 the French gave up on Vietnam and the U.S. accepted the challenge - click here to read about it...

The Vietminh <br />(Newsweek Magazine, 1945)The Vietminh
(Newsweek Magazine, 1945)
"Hanoi is now the fountainhead of the largest and most successful anti-French insurgent movement ever mounted in Indo-China. Here Vietminh (first and last words of Viet Nam Doclap Dong Minh, meaning the league for the independence of Viet Nam) has set up the provisional government of the Viet Nam Republic. Viet Nam is the ancient name for the coastal provinces of Indo-China. Vietminh has been actively in existence since 1939. The President of Viet Nam and leader of the whole insurgent movement is a slight, graying little man of 55, named Ho Chi Minh who commanded guerrillas in collaboration with American officers in Northern Tonkin... For 43 years he has devoted himself to anti-French activity. Constantly reported captured or dead, he never actually fell into French hands."
Our French Inheritance <br />(United States News, 1954)Our French Inheritance
(United States News, 1954)
"The U.S. is going to shoulder the job of saving what is left of Indo-China from the Communists...Congress is unlikely to approve additional funds. South Vietnam isn't a good-enough risk to be worth much bigger American investment. Everything may go down the drain in 19 months."
Military Choices <br />(U.S. News & World Report, 1965)Military Choices
(U.S. News & World Report, 1965)
"Events are moving now toward a military showdown in Vietnam - with a decision to be made by combat... The question at this time is whether the coming crisis will be resolved in South, middle or North Vietnam. As the showdown approaches, the U.S. finds itself involved in three forms of war in Southeast Asia":

• An anti-guerrilla war in southern South Vietnam.
• A base-defense war in northern South Vietnam.
• An anti-logistics war in southern North Vietnam."

The military man who penned this article weighs all these scenarios and also discusses the nuclear option.

American Resolve Made Manifest  <br />(U.S. News & World Report, 1965)American Resolve Made Manifest
(U.S. News & World Report, 1965)
This article was published six weeks after 32,000 military personnel landed at Danang and the big unit war began:

"A showdown with Communists in Asia is approaching fast. The U.S. offer of peace just got a short shrift from the Reds. Talk is not of peace , but a bigger war. The U.S. is determined to stand firm, no matter what. The strategy is to put more pressure on the enemy - making the cost unbearable. The hope is that the Reds will back off, but top U.S. officials are getting ready for the worst."

American POWs and the Wives They Left Behind <br />(Coronet Magazine, 1971)American POWs and the Wives They Left Behind
(Coronet Magazine, 1971)
The National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia was started by the wives of the American military personnel believed to be held by the North Vietnamese Army. It was intended to place pressure on the Communists in order that they live up to their obligations under the Geneva Convention.
The Domino Theory <br />(Collier's Magazine, 1951)The Domino Theory
(Collier's Magazine, 1951)
In 1951, N.Y. Governor Thomas Dewey (1902 – 1971) made a fact-finding trip to French Indochina (Vietnam), and as impressed as he was with the French command, he wrote urgently in this Collier's article of his belief in the "Domino Theory" - Indochina, Thailand and Burma were the Rice Bowl of Southeast Asia:

"The Rice Bowl of Southeast Asia is the cornerstone of our Pacific defenses. And Indochina is the cornerstone of the cornerstone."