Michael Lind discusses Vietnam: A Disaster From the Outset?
The Vietnam War marked a turning point in American history, to which many of the political divisions in our country today can be traced. Not only the justification for America's presence in Vietnam and the U.S. strategy for victory, but even many of the facts surrounding the war remain controversial to this day- Hillsdale College
Michael Lind is the Whitehead Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation. He is the author, with Ted Halstead, of The Radical Center: The Future of American Politics (Doubleday, 2001). He is also the author of Made in Texas: George W. Bush and the Southern Takeover of American Politics (New America Books/Basic, 2003) and What Lincoln Believed (Doubleday, 2005). Mr. Lind has been an editor or staff writer for The New Yorker, Harperâ€™s Magazine, and The New Republic. From 1991 to 1994, he was executive editor of The National Interest. He has also been a guest lecturer at Harvard Law School. Mr. Lind has written for The Atlantic Monthly, Prospect (U.K.), The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Financial Times, and other leading publications, and has appeared on C-SPAN, National Public Radio, CNNâ€™s Crossfire, and PBSâ€™s The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.
Mr. Lindâ€™s first three books of political journalism and history, The Next American Nation: The New Nationalism and the Fourth American Revolution (Free Press, 1995), Up From Conservatism: Why the Right Is Wrong for America (Free Press, 1996), and Vietnam: The Necessary War (Free Press, 1999) were all selected as New York Times Notable Books. He has also published several volumes of fiction and poetry, including The Alamo (Houghton Mifflin, 1997), which the Los Angeles Times named as one of the Best Books of the year, and a prize-winning childrenâ€™s book, Bluebonnet Girl (Henry Holt, 2004). His ground-breaking study of American grand strategy, The American Way of Strategy: U.S. Foreign Policy and the American Way of Life was published by Oxford University Press in October 2006.
China and the Soviet Union were the only allies of N. Vietnam? Perhaps.
1. Lind convenienty glosses over the fact that Ho Chi Minh sent numerous communiques to Harry Truman requesting help against the French in the French effort to reestablish colonial rule in SE Asia.
2. Lind also does not discuss Ho Chi Minh quoting the American Declaration of Independence in Hanoi while announcing a free Vietnam after WW 2.
3. He also decided not to mention that Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Minh (the Free Vietnamese) fed intelligence about the Japanese occupation of Indochina during WW 2 to the OSS (forerunner to the CIA). (The OSS had an office in Kunming, China. Read the book by Archimedes Patti - officer in charge of the Kunming office - on this topic.)
Lind said at the outset of this talk that it's essential that you look at the Vietnam War in the context of the Cold War and that we should ignore Vietnam's history. If you ignore Vietnam's history, what kind of circumscribed story are you telling? Centuries of on-again/off-again occupation by the Chinese; the better part of a century of colonial rule by the French -- two essential historical parts of the rise of Ho Chi Minh.
What did Ho Chi Minh admire most in Marxist doctrine? Answer: The parts where Marx discusses colonialism and the expolitation of peoples by the industrial nations. Ho, first and foremost, was a nationalist. He was a communist because the communist nations were willing to listen to his pleas for help against the French.
What would have happened if Truman had answered those pleas? What would have happened if the U.S. decided to back Ho in his efforts to oust the French from Vietnamese soil? Why didn't the U.S. back the Vietnamese in their efforts to be free? The French, essentially, treated the Vietnamese people like dogs.
Th rationale for the Vietnam War was a better, freer way of life for the Vietnamese? The same thing was said of Iraq by the British in the 1920s. The same thing was said of Iraq by the Bush administration in the 2003. (The truth (about Iraq): A better, freer - more profitable - way of life for oil companies.)
As the college boys in the stands chant when there's a bad call by a referee on the basketball court: Bullsh*t! Bullsh*t! Bullsh*t! Bullsh*t!
Read William Blum. Read 'Web of Deceit' by Barry Londo. Lind is selective in what he discusses. Read William Duiker's 'Ho Chi Minh: A Life'.
Good afternoon. My name is Britney Donald and I am a sophomore here at Hills Dale. ThoughI am a North West girl through and through born and raised in Spokane Washington, I cannotthink of a better place to grow in knowledge and hopefully wisdom than here at this small yetresolute college and it is my privilege to study history and biology, an interesting combination Iknow but there is liberal arts education for you. And now it is my distinct honor to introduce toyou our speaker for this afternoon, Michael Lind who holds a Masters degree in internationalrelations from Yale University and a law degree from the University of Texas is the white headsenior fellow at the new America foundation in Washington DC. Mr. Lind has been an editor orstaff writer of Harper's magazine, the New Yorker the New York public and the NationalInterest. He writes frequently for numerous publications including the Washington Post,Financial Times, The Atlantic Monthly and the New York times and he is the author of anumber of books on US foreign policy, politics and history including "Up From Conservatism","The Next American Nation", "The American Way Of Strategy" and "Vietnam, The NecessaryWar". Please join me in welcoming our speaker, Mr. Michael Lind.Thank you Britney and I would like to thank Hillsdale and the CCA for having me take part inin this very important conference with a very distinguish roster of of names many of whom youhave already listened to. In thinking about what I can say that's fresh and provocative about theVietnam War reminded of an older New Yorker cartoon which showed a dyeing medievalarmor outside of a hut telling his wife, "I am off to fight the hundred year war". And of coursethe point was at the time they didn't know it was gong to be 100 years in fact for much of the100 years war they didn't even think it was a war there was a conflict here, a battle there, asiege there and so on sort of only in retrospect. that you see there actually is a pattern here aswith the 30 years war, somewhat later in history. Again at the time, most of the participants inthis overarching conflict thought it was they were actually fighting smaller scale battles overin this bishop break and and on cue and this kingdom and so on. But nevertheless, it islegitimate to speak about the 30 years war and hundreds war in in the case of Vietnam, thecold war. And so the provocative thing that I will start off with is may be we shouldn't talkabout 'The Vietnam War or 'The Korean war' or for that matter 'The Afghan War from 1979until the Soviets left, may be we wish to talk about the cold war in Vietnam and the cold war inKorea and the cold war in Afghanistan and in Cuba and in central America and in other placesaround the planet. Because from the beginning to the end, a contrary to what is receivedwisdom found on of on found on on many university campuses today.The Vietnam War was not a separate anti colonial struggle that had nothing to do with the coldwar that was an element of anti war propaganda during during the conflict itself. It was clearlyfalse then and is certainly false now, but when we have the archives from the soviets, the terrifictension from the Chinese, the North Vietnamese communist. From the beginning to the end thecold war in Indochina was a great power struggle, it included Vietnamese, they were the oneswho suffered the most on both sides, they were the ones who died in great numbers they werethe ones whose country was devastated. But though it had have been solely a conflict amongVietnamese, had it been solely a civil war? It would have been like a civil war in Honduras orsomething I mean it might have been tragic and and bloody but we wouldn't remember ittoday and and it wouldn't have been a turning point in the history, not just of the US but of theworld, but it was a central battle in the cold war in which the two super powers - The UnitedStates and The Soviet Union took part in one regional great power - China. So I think that whatwe have to do is we have to think about - you don't start off the way its often done indiscussions of the Vietnam - war with Vietnamese history. And then suddenly the Americansappear in the 1964 may be earlier, you know with the French you know and the you knowyou start off with cold war and then is you zero in on Asia and then is you zero in on Vietnam, butnot only Vietnam, Korea and Taiwan and so on as well. So so the first question has to bewhat was the cold war which we can look at now that its over now that is a historical patternlike the hundred years war, the thirty years war, yet in - we know the answer, it was the thirdworld war, it was world war three.Now during the cold war people often spoke of world war three as something that mighthappen, if there were direct conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States you knowa nuclear war but also may be a conventional war like World War two with the Soviet armiesoverrunning Europe and and you know the US troops fighting directly with the Soviets. But itseems to me just as a matter of conceptual analysis, it makes more sense to say oh well youknow this was a world war, it wasn't fought directly, between the super powers but it was aglobal struggle, it wasn't fought directly first because of atomic weapons but that's not the onlyreason you know we put a much emphasis on the possession by both sides of nuclear weaponsas a deterrent, the sheer cost to the Soviets as well as us of conventional war even in theabsence of nuclear weapons might have deterred you know direct Soviet Americanconfrontation in in Europe for example. But it was a it was a World War, it was a WorldWar fought by means other than armies smashing into each other - on the territory of the twosuperpowers or bombs falling on their capitals, it was fought by arms races, it was fought byembargos we tend to forget the economic aspect of the cold war, but there was an institutioncalled Co Macon that imposed embargos of the industrial democracies on on the Sovietblock all the way until the end of cold war that was essential to crippling the Soviet economy.And it was - for the purposes of this seminar and this talk, it was fought through proxy wars.A proxy war is a battle in a country in which outside powers, arm, train support and subsidizeparticipants in a local conflict. Now and this doesn't mean a proxy war cannot be a civil war,most proxy wars are civil wars. But its more than a civil war, its also a global conflict whereoutside great powers are fighting each other indirectly rather than directly in the wars Indochina,and I just want to recall the Vietnam war, but the first Indochina war in the 40s and 50s thatended in in the mid 1950s, the Afghan war in the 1980s the Korean war, these were themajor proxy wars and and the cold war but there were a lots of others from central Americaand and Malaysia and around the world. Most of the people who fought in the cold war werenot Americans and were not soviets they were Asians and Africans and in some casesEuropeans and Middle Easterners fighting in these proxy wars and and they are they mightnot have cared about the relative merits of capitalism and communism although they areobviously vote in communists if not vote in capitalism on both sides in these conflicts. But from astrategic point of view, it's clear that the fact that the Soviet Union was backing one side andthe United States another turned these conflicts whatever their local worlds have named in intoproxy wars in this global struggle. So that's what we can see looking back at the cold war, itsjust still - I would give it a name like the hundred years war except people disagree aboutwhen it began and when it ended you know that it began in 1946 or 1948, did it began in -during World War two I don't think you say begin in 1917 when the Soviet when thecommunist took over Russia because, yes there was ideological warfare and there were temptsof subversion by the Soviet Union and other countries and indeed there was a proxy warbetween the Soviet Union and fascists in the Spain in 1930s.But I think it for analytical purposes it makes more sense to say that cold war emerges in thelast years of World War two or the early year's right after it. And then it ends depending on thehistory on US 1986 when Gorberchev repudiates Soviet's foreign policy ideology and says theSoviets will abide by the liberal norms of the world order under the UN charter or in 1991when the Soviet Union disintegrates, by that's basically from the 40s up until the 19 - late 1980searly 1990s. Now the central countries, the central battle grounds during this you know 40 - 45year period were four nations, could you name them?Four nations that were divided between communist and non communist regimes, those fournations are Germany, China, Korea and Vietnam. Germany was divided in the years afterWorld War two when Stalin persuaded to communize the eastern half of Germany that hecontrolled and the British and French and the Americans merged their occupation zones intowhat became the federal republic of Germany. China's division came a few years later in 1949- 1950 when Mao and his communists supported by Stalin took over mainland China andChiang Kai-shek's nationalist regime then retreated to Taiwan and Taiwan is quays independenteven though it is recognized as legally part of China, it has different governments to state.The division of Korea and the Vietnam was solidified as a result of the Korean war, it's neverbeen ratified - President Bush got into some trouble in last weeks saying the Korean war hadnot ended what he say yeah he is basically right I mean you know there is an narcissists butthere still no treaty you know there is no settlement. Legally I think he is on pretty solid groundsand Vietnam as a result of the first Indo- China war the Geneva accords partitioned in 1954,partition in north and South Vietnam. So by the time we get to 1954 - 1955 we have these fournations, one the large and most populus in the world, China one the most important Europeanpower Germany, two others Vietnam and Korea substantial nations I mean when people sayKorean Vietnam these are small nations.No these are not like Costa Rica I mean you know these are major countries. But neverthelessthese countries really share nothing in common with each other except for the fact they weredivided in two and we had a communist regime supported by the Soviet Union and a noncommunist regime supported by the United States and its allies and the non communists regimesobviously had very little common with each other apart from being non communist, you had ademocracy in West Germany, you had military dictatorship in South Korea, you had kind of apersonalized dictatorship under Diem in South Vietnam and then it became a militarydictatorship after he was assassinated. In the China we had the remnants of this nationalistregime which was an authoritarian state with its own quos Leninist ideology actually you know itwasn't a traditional military dictatorship. But when these four countries were responsible formany of known most of the crisis of the cold war, well why use that because it when I say thatit is a World War, it's not a World War in the sense that you are rushing to cease the Ukrainianoil supplies for military logistical purposes, you know these four countries were not significantfor your traditional geopolitical reasons now grand that Germany, great rich industrial countrydidn't want its resources as as a whole falling into the Soviet hands, China populationresources, Korea, Vietnam you know they didn't have intrinsic strategic importance. Therestood the importance of the context of the Cold War was extrinsic, it was contextual as I say inmy book "Vietnam The Necessary War" these four countries Germany, China, Korea andVietnam were not contested because they were important.They were important because they were contested and if any of you when you were kidsgrowing up with your brother or sister, you know fought over a line in the middle of the bed thatyou shared, the issue was not the issue as they said in 60's you know the point was not theparticular line, it was the fact that there is a line and there is a conflict of wealth so as you seewe are narrowing down on what we think of this as "The Vietnam War" or "Vietnam war" itsorigins date back at the earliest to the mid 1950's at that point the United States is committed todefending the territorial integrity of west Germany, Taiwan, South Korea and the south Vietnam.The four non economist fragments of these four divided nation states and it is doing so not -again not because of their intrinsic importance but because of symbolism. For the same reason,there are repeated crisis in Berlin. Berlin is a little outpost within what became communist eastGermany where the world war two allies continued to control sectors of the city and so it wasthe fact of its kind of the Cold War in miniature because we have the western half with theeastern half in it was totally surrounded by communist east Germany and Stalin and his satrapsin east Germany repeatedly tried to you know cut off access and so on and then the US - wego to the brink of war over that but why I mean who cares its actually the city in their territoryyou know if they want to concrete they can and there is no one stop it short of all that workbecause it was a testing, it was testing resolved and great power of credibility is alwaysimportant in all times in all places but the credibility of united states was particularly important.By credibility I mean the resolve to protect its allies, even its less significant allies. Particularly itsless significant allies, you know I mean everyone will defend the bad guy you know who isharassing your wife or your kids or your mother, but if you going on the work path because heinsults your cat you know you are going to be taken seriously and there was this kind of wild westlogic you know in in this very dangerous - which as I say was a world war of that wasbeing fought by indirect methods.Let me just read you a famous statement from John McNorton a and a advisor to LyndonJohnson in March 25th 1965 "listing the goals of the US and Indochina, 70 percent to avoid ahumiliating defeat to our reputation as a guarantor, 20 percent to keep South Vietnam in theages of territory from Chinese hands, 10 percent to permit the people of South Vietnam toenjoy a better free way of life". So this is how the Johnson administration saw wasn't that theydidn't want to help the South Vietnamese but that's not why we are going to war. We weregoing to war - 70 percent to avoid a humiliating defeat to our reputation as a guarantor but whatwould happen if you had a humiliating defeat to America's reputation as a guarantor at theheight of the cold war?Well here we have to go back to World War two in the way we fought World War twobecause we fought World War two not as the imbalance of power war, but as a war ofdebolation, that's a fancy legalistic term for an annihilation. The US decided that it was notgoing to fight Germany until it was so weak that we would then have a balance of power inEurope between a slightly weakened Hitler's Germany and the Soviet Union.We decided we are not going to fight Japan till we have a slightly weaker imperial Japan thatcan balance against Chiang Kai-shek's nationalist china, there were so called realists who arguethat we should have done that and indeed many of the leading Nazis including Himmler all theway to the end of the war kept expecting the US decide any moment well we don't want you tobe too weak you know because of Stalin over here but for better or worse and I thinkobviously for better giving the nature of Nazi regime and and the atrocities of imperial Japanand Asia, it was all to the better, this was the policy of US pursued I the goal was to knockGermany and Japan out of the ranks of military powers at least for a generation, forever whoknows but you know this was Roosevelt's goal and Churchill's as well and when they wereassured by - their whole time ally Stalin.But what that meant was, when the soviet challenge began and then it was always a possibilitythat that Roosevelt for Sandy hoped that he could - Stalin after world war two, would act asa status world power and you could maintain this US British soviet alliance but clearly even bythe time he died things - Stalin was proving much more aggressive what that meant was therewas no Germany and no Japan to help contain Stalin. The British empire was so bankrupted bythe cause of world war two that Britain cease to be a super power in the year or two afterworld war two by 1946 - 1945 and so we have this truly bipolar world, there were two superpowers military super powers soviet union was never an economic super power which pureraw military force it was.Now of course in James Bond films, Britain continued and continues to the third super powerbut but in real life that was not the case so that what does this have to do with avoidhumiliating and defeat our reputation as a guarantor? The nightmare of American strategist wasthat the major industrial democracies particularly demilitarized Japan and demilitarized WestGermany which had most of Germanys population and resources would conclude that the UScannot protect us from the soviet you know lacks the capability or lacks the will, so there forewe are going to cut the deal with it - we are not going top become communist I mean thatwasn't the fear that communist may take over in the two most important industrial nations outside of the US, Germany and Japan, the fear rather was that conservative Germans - imprudentconservative German business man and politicians were just you know do the math and theywould say you know we have to cut a deal with the Soviet Union on their terms and at thatpoint you have some kind of - the western alliance is broken apart, Japan and Germany areseparated from the US and its other allies, they went through trade deals with the communistblock, begin to take the pressure of of the soviet economy and at their own industrialresources indirectly to those of the soviet block this was the nightmare of American strategistsand so was always on their mind was if we back down in Berlin, in Korea, in Vietnam thosecountries themselves may not be that important only Berlin - as the city is not all that importantbut our our weak demilitarized protected allies particularly demilitarized Germany and andJapan will conclude, we can no longer protect them so in that sense all of these symbolic proxywars resulted from the US policy on world war two of of wiping out German and Japanesepower and incorporating them in to an alliance with industrial democracies which because wehave got rid of Germany and Japanese militarism, the US had to protect.These world wars these world wars of it's not an imperial protector but its a "Hegemony"that's a Greek word meaning general or leader or commander in the US during the cold warwas the leader of a hegemonic alliance system with these protectorates that it had to defend. Sothat brings us you know that's - that's the commitment to Berlin, to Taiwan, to South Korea, toSouth Vietnam. The other factor as we are narrowing, we have now narrated on from thecold war, as we are narrowing gradually towards our Vietnam war, the other factor that I thinkis neglecting all of this as China, but if you you know looking back from 2007, clearly thecentral event of of the cold war in Asia was the triumph of Mao in 1949 because until thatpoint - yes Ho Chi Man and his communists had been battling the French in Indo-China, youhad there was this North Korean communist regime under Kim Il-sung that was supported bythe soviets, but this was an enormous wind fall to the communist block and in fact it resultedvery rapidly in the biggest expansion of the block that boom boom boom - over the nextcouple of decades a - lot of the discussion of the Vietnam war and the cold war is often said ofthe domino theory, it wasn't true, well it may not have been true in literal terms after 1975, inthe sense that Thailand and Malaysia and Burma did not go communist. It was certainly trueafter 1949, and we know now from the soviet archives and from some of the Chinese archivesthat contrary to what was along the argument on on among opponents of the cold war in thewest, Stalin and Mao were collaborating on a near daily basis, through out the late 1940's thesoviets were providing pilots, training, money, weapons it was streaming into China, ChiangKai-shek did not fall, because his wife was wicked, were because they were corrupt, that allmay have been true, but the nationalist regime in China was destroyed by combination of it'sown military incompetence but also it was killed by the soviet union through the soviet in effectit Mao worship Stalin and continue to do so after Stalin died, he despised Stalin's successors,but he thought that there was his great succession of communist genius states men Lenin, Stalin and Mao.But as long as Mao was alive, he took directions, from Lenin's era for the most part that therewas some squabbles and so and this is what shapes American policy, because Mao comes topower immediately they began planning for a war with the Americans to take over Taiwan weknow this now from the Chinese archives which are recorded it's incomplete record, but theChinese - when they had good relations with, the soviets were in the habit of sendingmimeograph copies of notes of their Polit Bureau meetings to Moscow and so so peoplesresearching soviet foreign policy history have also found this cache of it's not obviouslyincomplete but all these meetings from Chinese communist officials so the plan was we nowknow in 1949 1950 the Peoples liberation Army China is preparing for war over Taiwan, atthat point Stalin concludes that the US will not go to war over South Korea and some one hesend to Moscow he gives them the Green light the red army draws up a lot of the plans forthe North invasion of South Korea, all of the stuff if you studied history in the 1950's and inthe 1960's 1970's you would have to fill out every thing you learned, right, because the oldstory was that Stalin was taken by surprise by North Koreas invasion of South Korea, in 1950,in fact he planned it months in advance with Kim and Mao, and Ho Chi Man. They all knewabout it, before it happened, because Stalin wanted them all to prepare for the coming Koreanwar, when did Stalin shock?The Americans and their allies sent troops, and repulsed the North Koreans, at that point Stalincalled on Mao to send in Chinese troops, and again this is why history is is being vivid as wehave access to these archives, you know this was the story the story I got you know from myprofessor in the 1970's was Mao was surprised by the up break of the Korean war and tookno interest in it, until McArthur crossed the Yalu river and old Chinese emperors and mandarinsalways cared about the Yalu river blab la blab la blab a total nonsense total nonsense in factwe now know that - from Chinese source that the Government of Chinese confirm this inarticles published by the existing PRC government now wanted to go in immediately, but hewasn't yet an absolute dictator, it was still kind of an oligarchy and the Chinese army did notbecause they didn't want to be diverted from Taiwan.And It was only when Stalin said okay I am going to have to pull the plug and the Americanswere going to occupy the entire Korean peninsula, it's only at that point that Mao had thisstanding with the other Chinese communist party leaders to say "look if even either we go innow, Stalin is right or the whole thing is lost you know. So the Chinese go in and the suddenlythe United States find itself fighting the biggest country in the world in terms of the population,it's poor but in these resources of population and so the Korean war turns into this bloody stalemate, many reverses it ends after Stalin dies and there is a good question as to whether Stalinhad lived whether it would have ended only they have the arms since 1953 you know this is oneof the fortuitist things.But so so now we get up to the Eisenhower administration, we get to the Kennedyadministration, the Johnson administration and is just a factor you cant think about Vietnamwithout China in the cold war because this is the two nightmares haunting, this America'sstrategists, republican democratic liberal and so we didn't had I - I mean there is a commonstrategy here, are two things first the Soviets and their proxies will kill one of our protectors andand that's just the nightmare you know we would be exposed as we came helpless and ourallies will start rethinking their options as president Kennedy depended on us or not, that's their first nightmare.But the case of Vietnam, the other nightmare was another war with China because the KoreanWar was not a war by Americans against the North Koreans alone it's a war against the peoplerepublic of China. You know when people nowadays say you know there is a danger of warwith China they should say you know we fought a war with China - say the Korean War. Andso this brings us up to our Vietnam war 1964 to 1975 the reason it was fought the way it wasfought was fear of Chinese intervention and historians to this day debate this, there is a school ofthought that said this was a hallucination, you know that the Chinese would not have interferedunder any circumstances, so therefore the US could have gone it all over very quickly simply byinvading North Korea and I am sorry North Vietnam or taking over Laos or something like thatI mean this is an argument you know some historians make. Other historians including Chinese -scholars fluent in Chinese, both Chinese American and not who have looked at their availabledocuments which I hasn't add are still incomplete disagree with this, they think that is quite likelythat if the United States have invaded North Vietnam in 1964 1965 - 1966 that we wouldhave been at war with Mao in China.Now does what does this mean? Well it means that the US because of this strategy of provingcredibility had to do something to save South Vietnam but because of this fear they are fightingChina for a second time within a decade, it couldn't do the obvious thing which is to wipe outthe aggressive regime, you know but for China the US could have made quick work of NorthVietnam you know overwhelming military in the same way we did with Serbian, Kosovo and indisposing Iraqi regime you know what followed in Iraq the insurgency that's different you knowyou could have knocked over North Vietnam fairly quickly where not for this fear of theChinese intervention.In my book I argue that the Kennedy and Johnson administration and fairly Nixonadministration which ruled out this option were not the fluent there were sometimes claimed tohave been, that they were quite rivals if they did not know the full extent of Chineseparticipation in the Vietnam War itself then I will just read you a a little bit "between 1965 and1968 China provided massive support for north Vietnam in addition to supplying Hanoi withmilitary equipment and civilian goods Mao's government dispatched anti aircraft artillery troopsto the northern part of North Vietnam. Even one point that Hanoi's request and this is between65 and 68 the hype of the American intervention, China sent engineering troops to repair andexpand the North Vietnamese railway system so that it would not be disabled by Americanbombing. The Chinese troops also freed North Vietnamese regulars to journey into Laos andkeep supplies moving down the Ho Chi Man trial in all China sent and this is according to theChinese government itself and in all China sent 327,000 troupes to North Vietnam. 327,000troupes, that's more than twice the troupes we have in Iraq. China these were - army I meanI am sorry people's liberation army, Chinese put actually in North Vietnam. As the historianShen Shian has observed, although Beijing support may have fallen short of Hanoi'sexpectation, without the support the history even the outcome of the Vietnam war might havebeen different the soviets were there too. Don't let anyone tell you that it wasn't.Some years ago I was moving in from an apartment in New York and there was a polishemigrant a young man who was helping me move my my few and meager possessions andyeah I was working on this book at the time, he asked me what I was working on and he saidoh my father fought in Vietnam but say they were Polish fighting in Vietnam? Oh yeah Polish,East Germans you know military historians know this, the US knew it to some degree. But that- the the extend of participate - mostly the advisors don't exaggerated but there were peoplefrom the Warsaw pact and from Russia on the other side. Our troupes encountered themsometimes you know and again I would just read briefly as many as 3000 soviet advisors tookpart in the Vietnam war between 1965 and 1968, the instructed north Vietnamese soldiers andthe use of Soviet supplied equipment manned the ground based anti aircraft system andparticipated in combat action against the Americans and south Vietnamese on occasion, thesoviet government carefully concealed the extend of soviet involvement in Indochina forbiddingsoviet personal and their families to discuss the destination of there units.Soldiers heading for Vietnam wore civilian clothes and on arrival done Vietnamese uniforms.During the Korean war soviet pilots and another military volunteers had to wear Chinese orKorean uniforms. One historian says, "the American knew only two well that Vietnameseplanes of soviet design were often flown by soviet pilots", well who is that historian? Some kindof right wing crook from National Review? No, a former soviet colonel Alexei Vinogradov. Infact there is soviet pilots now who in their old age are taking you know great claim in theirbragging rights about having shot down Americans disguise over Korea if not of Vietnam. Sothis was a world war and the question, so I will wrap up so that we have time to discuss it wewasn't doomed from the outside well I just want to - to reframe the question from this littlepiddling debate among - tactics you know, should we have cut off the Ho Chi Man trial first, sothere have being counter-insurgency you know this than the other its kind of like PicketsCharge Atgetisberg I mean you know historians in war bus can discuss this forever. I don'tknow the answer I don't know the answer - but it does seem to me you can say the realquestion is this should we have extended this commitment to south Vietnam to creating a aSouth a non communist South Vietnamese state around the same time we extended thecommitment to South Korea?. Well you know hind side is 2020. Let's look at these fourdivided countries today, in 2007 alright two of them are still divided. One of them Germany wasreunited when the communist regime was overthrown by some people after the soviet whoprompted up victory and then the people in east Germany voted to join the federal republic ofGermany, so there is this peaceful annexation of East Germany by West Germany.One of them in 1975 Vietnam was consolidated into a single state because North Vietnamconquered South Vietnam in a conventional soviet supplied military invasion after the US leftand after congress cut off all military aid. The other two are still there. Taiwan and andmainland China and North Korea and South Korea. Now today in 2007 in the absence of thecold war, there are some tensions between us and the Russian and the Chinese, but it's not atthe level of you know major great power rivalry yet it may turn out that way, even so in theabsence of this context of this entire global struggle, the US is prepared at this very moment togo to war if north Korea attacks South Korea and it's possible I can't estimate the likelihoodbut it's quite possible that if China today invaded Taiwan, there we would find out ourselveswith war with China by the time of the evening news, it's possible. May be president wouldmake other decisions and so my point is just this if in 2007 soviet union's history like theHapsburg empire, there is no global ideological threat except in the form of jihadism whichwhich is a threat but it doesn't control any you know military economic super power.Even in the absence of all of these conditions in the cold war the US for reasons of credibilityalone might very well go to war over Taiwan over South Korea or both. Then why on earthwould any American president in the 1960's not go to war for South Vietnam? I mean it is justgiven the context given these initial commitments, these trick lawyers every presidentunderstood and agreed that the soviet block is not going to kill any of our proxy our our clientstates, it just not you know will we do about it? Then you go to the realm of strategy and tacticsand you can argue that the cost wasn't worth it and indeed I think after a point it wasn'tbecause these were limited commitments at the end of the day.You know they were worth paying a certain amount for - I hate to use this callus calculation butthat's what states men do - you know they have the budget in blood and a budget in treasureand if in their responsibility to the tax payers and the soldiers is to decide when to cut lossessometimes was worth an investment of blood and treasure but it's not.So you know that's the tragic dilemma and and I think if it just to wrap up about theVietnam war having started the cold war and then narrate it down to the Vietnam war, youknow I would not if like to its being the US president in 1960's because even if north Vietnamhad decided to abide by its border with south Vietnam, Kim Il-sung could have invaded southKorea you know Mao at the height of his craziness in the cold war revolution could haveinvaded Taiwan in fact to me as a historian, the most interesting thing about the cold war is thewar that we never fought, the Taiwan war you know we were always on the verge of doing andit just never happened. But I have spoken long enough and to we will have sometime forconversation thank you.