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Minutes of Y's Men Meeting of December 1, 2016
Mark Albertson

According to Mr. Albertson, the Vietnam War had its roots in the map making that occurred post World War I without regard to ethnicities, religions, cultures, or tribal affiliations.  One result of this map drawing was the split in Vietnam between the North and the South with French control.  Another reason was granting power in South Vietnam to Ngo Ding Diem who had his own agenda, which favored the Catholics over every other religion and wanted to suppress Communism and any who opposed him. Diem also initiated the “Green Shirts”, which were an enforcing group that used terror and executions to support the corrupt Diem regime.

Exercising an opposite strategy was Ho Chi Min, in the North.  Ho followed the advice of other successful revolutionaries who stated that rule must be based on the peasants.  Consequently, Ho supported the peasants in South Vietnam who began to revolt against the Diem regime by killing off the Diem functionaries who were based in their villages.  Ho saw an opportunity and took control of this village by village uprising.  He managed to complete this by 1961.

Meanwhile, Kennedy had succeeded Eisenhower as president in the U.S.  Eisenhower had supported Diem and when Kennedy took office he received advice from many prominent leaders, foreign and domestic, to stay out of Vietnam, but Kennedy was afraid of losing Asia and increased the level of U.S. troops there from 3,200 in 1961 to 16,000 in 1964.  By 1965 the U.S. was totally committed to support South Vietnam and our troop level had risen to over 300,000.

This level of incursion by the U.S. caused North Vietnam to adopt a total war footing.  Its factories and production plants were dismantled and spread out in jungle areas.  Its men went to war in the south and its women took over the tasks of running production and defending the North.  This resulted in complete alignment between the political and military goals with universal popular support. The North also gained support from the Soviet Union and China, which kept it supplied with both military goods and other materials.

The contrary was true in the U.S.  Many people began to demonstrate against the war even as U.S. troops replaced South Vietnamese troops in the fighting.  This feeling against the war even manifested itself in political action as Congress, in 1970, demanded that the U.S. pull its troops out of Cambodia when President Nixon placed them there as an effort to shut down the Ho Chi Min Trail, which was used to supply the North’s troops in the south.  With the lack of popular support in the U.S. and facing complete popular support for the forces aligned against it defeat became inevitable and the U.S. completed its pull out in 1973. 

Q&A

Q.  How do these lessons apply to the Middle East today?

A.  We face a conundrum.  We no longer need the oil that once forced us to take a protective role for countries like Saudi Arabia, but the dollar is the world’s reserve currency and it’s tied to oil so to protect the reserve currency position we have to continually protect the Mideast oil.  And we have to protect the reserve currency status to protect our international loans in all their forms.

Q.  Why did LBJ delegate so much to McNamara?

A.  McNamara was recognized as the expert on the situation at the time.

Q.  Why don’t we listen to the public?

A.  We keep moving further and further away from listening to the public.  Look at how we have never asked for a Declaration of War from Congress since World War II.  Popular opinion can mess up political agendas.