Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Vietnam War documentary

A thought on the Burns/Novick documentary (which, like many others of my generation, I'm having a hard time getting through):

The CIA had long tried to convince the White House that the VC/NVA not only had far more troops committed in the field than LBJ, McNamara and Westmoreland wanted to believe, but also possessed the will and staying power to see it through. In his 1978 book, “Sub Rosa: The CIA and the Uses of Intelligence,” Peer DeSilva, a frustrated former CIA chief-of-station in South Vietnam, succinctly describes LBJ and his minions, in light of their doomed course of action, as having been "arrogant, prideful, and dumb."

On a somewhat related, one of the tragic absurdities I came across while researching “The Long Goodbye” was that McNamara had grown up in Oakland, CA, about a 15-minute walk from Tom Mahoney’s family home, and died on July 6, 2009 at the age of ninety-three—exactly forty-one years TO THE DAY that 20-year-old Tommy Mahoney fell on Hill 881 South. The fact that Mr. McNamara’s cynical and self-serving policy to keep his misgivings about the war hidden and continue escalating the effort earned him 73 years more of life than his neighbor Tommy—and thousands of other 20-year-old boys—is a disgraceful epilogue to this national tragedy.

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