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September 09, 1971 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1971-09-9

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Page Two


Thursday, September 9, 1971

Pentagon documents reveal secret war str

a tegy


(EDITOR'S NOTE: The follow-
ing Is a summary of the former-
ly secret Pentagon study on the
Indochina- War.)
Publication this summer of a
secret Pentagon study on the
Indochina war has given new
dimensions to the charge of a
"credibility gap"'leveled at the
government by war critics.
Commissioned in 1967 by Rob-
ert McNamara when he was sec-
retary of defense, the study re-
veali much of the behind the
scenes maneuvering in the gov-
The study was leaked to the
New York Times by former de-
fense analyst Daniel Ellsberg.
The Times began publication of
a series of articles based on the
study on June 13, but was en-

joined from further publication of
the series two days later.
Copies of the study, however,
soon spread to other publications;
and the government gained in-
junctions against several of them.
Although the Supreme Court
ruled on July 1 that the enjoined
papers could resume publica-
tion, Ellsberg was arrested and
now faces prosecution for posses-
sion of secret documents.
Early reports in the study in-
dicate that the United States, con-
trary to public pronouncements
by the government, had worked
to undermine the Geneva accords
since their signing in 1954.
The Geneva agreement, which
provided for the creation of two
countries in Vietnam, a com-
munist state in the north and a
noncommunist state in the south,
was viewed as a "disaster" by

National News
By Chris Parks

The U.S. government, accord-
ing to the study, also strongly op-
posed the provision of the agree-
ment providing for free elections
throughout both Vietnams, for
fear that the communists would
gain control.
The papers reveal a mounting
U.S. military involvement in or-
der to prevent the communists
from gaining control.
President John Kennedy, the
study concludes, transformed a
"limited risk gamble" of the Eis-
enhower administration, into a
"broad committment" to pre-
serve noncommunist government
in the south.
The papers reveals that as the
size and extent of the American
military committment increased,
there was a corresponding in-
crease in official deception of the

public concerning military opera-
tions in Vietnam.
For example, the study states
that in April 1965, President Lyn-
don Johnson decided to move to
greater use of ground troops after
becoming disenchanted with the
progress of the war.
At the time this major policy
decision was being made, how-
ever, he said, "I know of no far-
reaching strategy suggested or
promulgated." In so saying, the
study concludes, the president
was being "less than candid".
In 1966, after receiving a re-
quest for a troop increase of over
200,000 from Gen. William West-
moreland, then commanding U.S.
forces in Vietnam, Johnson told
the press "we do not have on my
desk at the moment, any unfilled
request from Gen. Westmore-


U.S. officials, the report

Attempts to sabotage the agree-
ment, the study charges, included
paramilitary operations against
the newly formed Democratic
Republic of North Vietnam.
Guerilla teams, it states, were
sent to Hanoi to undertake oper-
ations against bus lines and other
means of transportation.


As the conflict wore on, and
American casualties rose with no
end in sight, more and more gov-
ernment officials became disaf-
fected with the war. As early as
1967, the study reports, McNa-
mara was urging the president to
de-escalate the war.
The government determined to
fight on, however, spurred by
what the study calls a "colossal
misjudgement" of the Viet Cong
and the North Vietnamese.
In a one year period between
1965 and 1966, Westmoreland
tripled his request for troops due,
according to the study, to "con-
stant underrating" of his oppo-
It was this "underrating" the
papers suggest, which caused the
government to believe that a con-
centrated program of intensified
bombing could "bring Hanoi to
its knees".
Instead, the report concludes,
the bombing had the opposite ef-
After the papers were pub-
lished, in June, former Secre-
tary of Defense Dean Rusk de-
fnded the Johnson administra-
tion, saying the documents told
nothing essentially new.
In a sense this is true. The
documents merely lend support to
many of the charge that anti-
war activists have been making
for years.
War critics who have charged
the United States government un-
derrated the North Vietnamese,
deceived the public, and in some
instances thwarted democracy in
Vietnam, can find support for
their allegations in the pages of
the secret Pentagon papers.



'Secret' documents surface

Pressure increases
for Viet war solution,

$10.5 JA

C T.V.

As the Indochina war slogged
on through another summer,
pressure at home continued to
mount for a settlement of the
longest war in American his-
For those who still hope to
salvage an American victory
from the struggle it has been a
bad summer.
Despite the spring offensive
into Laos, designed to cripple
the North Vietnamese' ability to
make war in the south, com-
mitnist military operations both
in Cambodia and near the De-
militarized Zone (DMZ) have
been both extensive and rela-
tively successful.
Another blow to hawks came
in June as the NewYork Times
and several other papers began
publication of a series of secret

Who needs it?

documents on the war revealing
a story of official deception and
The major blow to war ad-
vocates however, came June 22
when the Senate passed an
amendment urging the presi-
dent to withdraw all troops
from Indochina within nine
Passage of the amendment-
sponsored by Senate Majority
Leader Mike Mansfield (D-
Mont.) - came at the conclus-
ion of a long battle between
senate hawks and doves over a
bill to extend the draft for two
The major conflicts over the
bill came on a series of amend-
ments, proposed by war critics,
which were designed to hasten
U.S. disengagement from Indo-
-0 For the most part anti-war
senators were the loosers in
these battles.
For example, amendments
which would have excluded
draftees from combat service in
Indochina, and limited the draft
extension to one year were de-
In subsequent weeks the
stronger Hatfield-M c G o v e r n
amendment to cut off war
funds by December 31, 1971, and
Childs amendment which would
have set an *April 30, 1972 cut
off date met with defeat.
With the passage of the
Mansfield amendment, however,
war critics finally scored a vic-
tory. The amendment called for
an immediate ceasefire and. ne-
gotiations with the North Viet-
namese and Viet Cong. These
negotiations would determine
a timetable for the simultane-
ous withdrawal of U.S. forces
and repatriation of American
prisoners of war, to be complet-
ed within nine months.
Pressure placedtupon the
Nixon administration by the
passage of this amendment was
increased on July 1, when the
N a t i o n a 1 Liberation Front
(NLF) introduced a peace pro-
posal with striking similarities
to the Mansfield amendment.
The NLF proposal calls for
release of prisoners and with-
drawal of troops on a six month
The plan further calls for the
establishment of a coalition
government in the south to re-
place the Thieu-Key regime.
Despite the' similarities be-
tween this proposal and the one
approved by the senate, t h e
Nixon administration rejected
the NLF plan as unrealistic.
Meanwhile, beyond all the
negotiation and legislation, the
war in Indochina continued this
For the most part it, w a s
See GOVT., Page 7



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