That “Goddam” War

Note to my readers: my computer is out of action forcing me to present an abbreviated version of this piece using my IPad.

The point of my original piece was to demonstrate that Lyndon Blaines Johnson knew from the beginning that our war in Vietnam was a “Bright and shinning lie.”

In his book, Presidents of War, Michael Beschloss reproduces LBJ’s conversation with Senator Richard Russell recorded by LBJ on May 27, 1965:

(LBJ:) “It’s the damn worst mess I ever saw…and I don’t know how we’re ever going to get out of it without fighting a major war with the Chinese and all of them, down there in those rice paddies and jungles…It appears that our position is deteriorating. And it looks like the more that we try to do for them, the less that they are willing to do for themselves…It is just one of those places that you can’t win…it frightens me…It’d be Korea on a much bigger scale and a worse scale…The French report they lost 250,000 men and spent a couple of billion of their money and two billion of ours, down there, and just got the hell whipped out of them…we’re just in quicksand—up to our very necks.”

On March 31, 1968, almost three years later, LBJ cashed in his chips finally admitting that the military quagmire he called: That “Goddam” War had destroyed his presidency.

He concluded his otherwise banal speech to his tired and spent constituents with these two pronouncements:

“With America’s sons in the field far away, with America’s future under challenge right here at home, with our hopes and the world’s hopes for peace in the balance every day, I do not believe that I should devote an hour or a day of my time to nay personal partisan causes or to any duties other than the awesome duties of this office—the Presidency of your country.”

“Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president.”

So marked the beginning of the end for America to lose the war we couldn’t win. Richard Nixon gave us five more years of killing fields in Southeast Asia before the house of cards collapsed in 1973,

LBJ missed the dramatic last scene, succumbing to a heart attack on January 22 of that year. RIP.

I hope you enjoy this abbreviated and early post, and, God willing, I’ll be back in business next week.

K