This from a Cuban exile who knows what it is to endure the pain and suffering of losing something once held dear. Obviously this colors the prediction.
However, the interviewer in Orlando has been attacked for asking a question of Biden. Palin has been attacked for her clothes and everything else. Ask a question of Obama regarding his character and past associations and you are tagged a racist. ACORN registers voters and you question the veracity of what they are doing and you are attacked for stifling black voting. We need identification to get on a plane, enter a federal building but ask someone to prove who they are when they go to vote and you are accused of depriving people of voting. Jimmy Carter runs around the world verifying elections. Our own elections are becoming more and more third world like. (See 1 and 1a below.)
Comments from my hard nosed but realistic friend and fellow memo reader.
I wrote months ago GW knowingly was sending our service people into battle and not doing anything to prevent their being attacked from infiltrating terrorists from Syria. I also wrote I thought this was unconscionable. I also commented it was a president's moral duty to protect troops sent into battle. Finally we are doing something about it three years later and after many needless and tragic deaths and injuries. I will never accept an explanation for this. (See 2 below.)
Finally something convincing regarding Syria and the IAEA hangs back. (See 3 below.)
Mona Charen takes on the impossible task of explaining support for Obama among Jews. She calls it denial. I think it is more anatomical. (See 4 below.)
Henry Kissinger reviews the book by George Bundy's researcher "Lessons in Disaster." Kissinger had a lot to do with Viet Nam being an albatross around our neck. As with Greenspan, Henry is full of brilliant advice but would never admit to his own failings. (See 5 below.)
Add a little humor to your elite life:http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid271557392/bctid1842856410
What an Obama administration could mean for America - My predictions of what is to come.
I'm not admitting defeat. As Yogi Berra said "it is not over until the fat lady sings". Regardless, there is a strong possibility that Barack Hussein Obama may be our next president and, although there is some time for the American people to "wake up" and see Obama's reality, our reality is that we all may have a socialist president running the country and possibly leading the world. We don't want anyone to be surprised by what an Obama administration could mean to America. After all, he has been telling us all along what his "hopes" for the new America are. Since I've been sharing my thoughts and sentiments with most of you for the past five or six weeks, here are my very humble predictions as to what an Obama administration will bring to the United States. I'm sure you may have more to share but I just want to get started with a few of my own.
1. Spread the wealth. Socialism 101. This the the basics of the Marxist ideology. No one has the right to be successful unless they share their hard earned wealth (regardless how small or big) with the rest of the people. The mega rich will never be poor so who gets hurt? You and me. Ultimately we will all decide not to work as hard and to make less money. The goal is to demoralize the middle class and to destroy it. The goal is to have government dependency or a welfare state.
2. Shut down your adversary. The Fairness Doctrine has been in the works since the Democratic Party took over Congress in 2006. The goal is to shut down conservative radio or to limit them as not to express any criticism of the Obama administration. This, of course, is very serious and it is step No. 1 over total control of media that does not have a leftist message. This is step No. 1 in any communist regime. If Obama gets a majority of democrats in Congress, this will happen.
3. Legalization of Promiscuity. Legalization of same sex marriage by the Federal government. Since Obama may have the opportunity of naming 2-3 liberal Supreme Court judges, of course the higher court will give this law its blessing. Additionally, the Federal government will subsidize all abortions in this country with our tax dollars. The law against late term abortions will be overturned and it will become a standard practice in our country. Our children and grandchildren will be taught that same sex parents are just as normal as ordering a Big Mac and that it should be accepted because we must become a liberal minded country.
4. Demoralization of our military and retrieve of our troops. Military spending will be cut at least, if not more, by 25%. Our military standing in the world will be diminished. Troops will come home to an unwelcoming administration. Although it seems that the situation in Iraq has improved and much of it is now under Iraqi control, the troops will return in the first three months of an Obama administration. Regardless of the outcome.
5. Diminishing of our international influence as a world power. Since Obama will be negotiating with all world leaders regardless of their likes, dislikes or intentions about our country, the U.S. will no longer be the leader of the free world. We will be just another participant in the global market of ideals. The U.N. will be our guide and everyone will love us. This is because 80% of the world are ruled by leftist governments and they don't appreciate what we've done for them. Israel will have no choice but to attack Iran in order to avoid disappearing from the face of the earth. The U.S. will stand by and do nothing.
6. The Climate of fear and the culture of hate. The fear to say what you think and the hate toward your fellow American will become part of our every day life. We will discuss politics in a hush environment because we would not want to be pointed out as a racist.
7. Class warfare. This, of course, is step No. 2 in a socialist/Marxist environment. This is also basic to implement government control. Many of you may remember what happened in Cuba in 1959 when the masses came out to take someone else property because they felt that they should have it. Regardless of what it was. A washing machine, a refrigerator, a car. It's happen in every country that has fallen first under socialism and later under a Marxist controlling regime. As sad as it may seem, this is coming to America sooner than later. In some areas of the country it is already here.
8. Total control of your savings. Your savings is not yours. It belongs to the government and the government know better how to use it. 401Ks may disappear under a government controlled "pension" plan. Just like the communist Cristina Kirschner is doing in Argentina. They all fall under the same pattern.
9. Diminishing of religion on our lives. The basic Judeo-Christian basis of our country will be targeted. More and more cries of separation of church and state will take over our daily conversation. The media will support it. Churches that might even remotely think to criticize the Obama administration will have their tax exempt status revoked and cancelled.
10. General intimidation. Besides the passing of the Fairness Doctrine legislation, general intimidation of every day citizens will take place. If you criticize the president as it is our right under our freedom of speech, you may be labeled a racist. If you publicly complaint about the high taxes, the IRS will come after you with an investigation. And, on a lighter note, if you don't like the way Michele Obama dances or gives high fives, you may be fined for not being respectfully to the first lady.
So you see my friends the outlook is not very refreshing. Perhaps you may think I'm exaggerating a bit. I think I may fall short on a few items. So this morning I decided that once the U.S. and Cuba reinstate normal relations which may be in the first six months of an Obama administration, I will start my plans to return to the island nation where I was born. Don't take me wrong, I still think this is the greatest country in the world and I'm very proud to be its citizen. I'm not sure if an Obama administration will be a four or an eight year experience. I'm not sure if the American people will think twice before voting for him, but if the do, why wouldn't I want to live in Cuba. What would be the difference between the two countries? Its demographics?
I'm not a defeatist. I still have hope in the good sense of the American people but before you go to bed tonight, say a little prayer. For the country. For you and me.
1a) Election fraud fears: the cure states need better machinery and better registration procedures.
By Charles Stewart III
Escalating rage over the role of ACORN in registering presumably Democratic voters threatens to undermine the political legitimacy of a Barack Obama victory Nov. 4. And perhaps that's the point. But if John McCain were well ahead in the polls, the left would undoubtedly be shouting about electoral-system failures to de-legitimize a GOP win. It is too late to tone down the rhetoric for 2008, but if we want to end these sorts of attacks, there's only one solution: States must become more serious about how they administer elections.
The ACORN controversy -- in which hundreds of thousands of registration cards gathered by the Assn. of Community Organizers for Reform Now, including some that were fraudulent, were rejected by election officials -- represents nothing new. Republicans have been charging that Democrats inflate voter rolls for decades; likewise, Democrats accuse Republicans of suppressing legitimate votes.
But this year that hoary chestnut has collided with laws intended to make voting easier, particularly the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, or the "motor voter" law, and the 2002 Help America Vote Act, or HAVA. The first requires states to allow registration at a wide variety of government agencies and by mail. The second requires states to maintain centralized, computerized voter registration lists and to compare names against those in other government databases, such as driver's licenses.
ACORN and similar groups have undertaken massive voter registration drives because many states have been reluctant to follow through on their motor-voter obligation. In some cases, this is simply because social service agencies and motor vehicle offices are struggling to perform their core functions, much less provide voter registration services. But some state governments simply have decided not to comply. Either way, millions of eligible voters still find it hard to register.
HAVA also revealed the poor condition of many states' core databases: Comparisons between the voter rolls and driver's licenses have yielded hundreds of thousands of mismatches -- almost all of which are because of clerical problems such as typos, not fraudulent registrations.
In this context, the ACORN scandal might seem to be the final push toward turning 2008 into the perfect storm of election chaos. Despite its aggressive quality control, ACORN's business of paying people for each new registration has become a meaty treat for right-wing carnivores. When McCain warns that ACORN is "on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy," he is setting the stage for his followers to refuse to accept the result of the election.
Of course, the left has its own favorite election-horror narrative: the failure of electronic voting machines. The most extreme tales have the election of George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 as literally hardwired by the voting equipment in Ohio. These suspicions too are a product of election reform legislation gone awry.
HAVA virtually mandated that every precinct have at least one direct recording electronic voting machine to allow disabled persons to vote unaided. As more and more localities replaced all of their equipment with electronic machines, the manufacturers began shooting themselves in the foot. CEOs promised to help "deliver the votes" to Bush in 2004. Touch screens sometimes froze. Computer code was shown to be poorly written. The design was vulnerable to easily anticipated operator error. In addition, there were highly visible (if sometimes dubious) demonstrations by hackers, computer scientists, students and activists to show what could happen if someone with access really wanted to do harm.
But as Democratic fortunes have improved this year, panic about rogue voting machines has virtually disappeared. And it is clear why. With Obama's lead in the polls solidifying, stories about hacked voting machines no longer motivate Democrats. Furthermore, if Obama is likely to win, why hint at the possibility that the outcome could be subject to manipulation -- even if the opponent would do the alleged manipulation?
To be clear, for those concerned about voter fraud and voting machine malfunctions, there is plenty to be worried about. However, thousands of hours of analysis by dispassionate researchers have uncovered virtually no election fraud, even though the voter lists are flawed. And even though the machines sometimes break down, there is no demonstrated case of an electronic voting machine being maliciously hacked in any American election.
So, eight years after the Florida hanging-chad fiasco, we find ourselves in a deep irony. Elections undoubtedly are better-run now. However, a combination of greater media attention to election-system failures, transitional chaos and razor-thin election margins have increased anxieties. Unfortunately, as the recent turn against ACORN has reminded us, it is a small step from attacking shenanigans to creating the impression among partisans that the other guy won by fraudulent means.
What to do? To stop attacks on voting machines (and thus remove any taint from Republican victories), states need laws that ensure a clear chain of custody for all machines and ballots before an election, require thorough audits of the machines after an election and make all software open to public scrutiny. Some states, including California, have made progress in this area, but most have not.
To stop attacks on groups like ACORN (and thus remove any taint from the victories of Democrats), states must do a much better job of registering new voters. The best practice in this regard is election-day registration, which puts the business of voter registration back in the hands of election officials, where it belongs, in a setting that is the extreme of convenience for voters. Eight states allow voters to register at the polls. California and other states should adopt this reform.
Democracies can work only when the losers accept the result. In recent years, only the most extreme voices have truly doubted Bush's claim to the Oval Office, and we can only hope that if Obama wins, only the most extreme voices on the right will truly doubt his election.
But our democracy needs more than hope. Well-meaning reforms have caused much of this mudslinging, and only sober, bipartisan efforts to change those laws will relegate charges of election fraud to the back pages of the newspapers.
2) Hi Dick, You're quite right about the crap: neither of them have dealt with what to me is the most important question of our time: Islam's war against the West. I don't say "militant Islam" or "Islamic terrorism" because Islam is jihad, and jihad = terrorism, against all non-Muslims. If one is a Muslims one must believe in jihad as a holy war: all the legalistic quarreling over semantics notwithstanding . McCaine could have attacked Islam, but aside from a few little jabs he did nothing. Obama can't do it because I'm convinced he is a Muslim, or at least a very strong Muslim sympathizer and he wants them on his side.
Incidentally, did you see the news of the raid in Syria? Finally! I hope they are getting good information out of the POW's. I believe that there are also bigger surprises in that area. But then we naturally wouldn't want to undo all the "good" that Rice has done, would we....? How could anyone elected to the office of President pick such a bunch of losers? We may see the Bush record topped by Obama if he wins.
3)IAEA diplomats say evidence warrants follow-up nuke probe in Syria
Diplomats in Vienna said Tuesday, Oct. 28, that freshly evaluated soil and air samples provide enough evidence to warrant a follow-up probe by the UN nuclear watchdog at the suspected Syrian nuclear site at El Kibar bombed by Israel in September 2007.
IAEA experts want to revisit the site and also follow up on US, Israeli and other intelligence allegations that North Korea had been helping Syria build a plutonium reactor there.
Damascus has denied running a covert program.
Military sources reported exclusively on Oct. 4 that Syria had resumed its nuclear program at installations scattered across the country and that North Korean nuclear experts were back.
According to recent American reports, a Syrian military delegation visited Pyongyang to find out whether their arms deals and nuclear collaboration were at risk as a result of Kim Jong-il’s ill health.
Sources disclosed IAEA director Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei and his deputy Dr. Olli Heinonen have been at odds for months over whether the UN watchdog should push ahead with its probe against Syria.
ElBaradai argued there was no evidence to support US and Israel claims that Syria had been building a reactor, but Heinonen, who led an agency inspection in Syria last June differed and wants to go on with the investigation. According to our sources, Heinonen as demanded access to the west bank of the Euphrates River opposite the El Kibar site, where Syria is believed to have cleared the ground of the debris left by the Israeli bombardment.
He also wants to question named army officers, engineers and technicians alleged to have been engaged in the program. Heinonen submitted to the government in Damascus a list of Syrian officials with dates on which they are suspected of having met secretly with North Korean nuclear physicists. He has asked for clarifications on the subject of those encounters.
On Oct. 3, Damascus offered to continue to cooperate with the IAEA but stated that no more inspections would be allowed because the locations requested were restricted military areas.
The deputy director’s dossier will be submitted to the agency’s board meeting next month. If further probes are recommended and Syria stalls, the way will be opened for a complaint to the UN Security Council and possible sanctions against Damascus.
4) Denial runs through American Jewry
By Mona Charen
From the Palestinian Authority Daily: "Twenty-three-year old Ibrahim Abu Jayyab sits by the computer in the Nusairat refugee camp (in the Gaza Strip) trying to call American citizens in order to convince them to vote for the Democratic candidate for president, Barack Obama..."
Like many Palestinians, Abu Jayyab is excited about the prospect of an Obama presidency. (By the way, the Gaza Strip is completely under the control of Hamas. Why then do they persist in speaking of "refugee camps"? But of course, we know why.) If Abu Jayyab and many others in the Palestinian areas are delighted, why are so many American Jewish voters feeling the same way? One side or the other has the wrong man. Which is it?
I've heard from some American Jews that they do not believe Obama is sincere in his leftism. They believe/hope that the anti-Israel sentiments and associations of his past were purely opportunistic; that once in the White House he will shed them like yesterday's fashions. That's quite a leap of faith.
Many politicians have distanced themselves from positions and associations of their youths. But in Obama's case, he is distancing himself from positions staked out as recently as 2003. The Los Angeles Times is apparently sitting on a videotape showing Obama's remarks at a farewell dinner that year for Rashid Khalidi, the one-time PLO spokesman who now heads the Middle East Studies Department at Columbia. (Columbia University's shame is a subject for another column.) Khalidi is not distancing himself from his past. Consistent with what you'd expect from someone who justified PLO attacks on civilians in Israel and Lebanon from 1976 to 1982, Khalidi routinely refers to Israel as a "racist" and "apartheid" state, and professes to believe in a "one-state" solution to the conflict. Guess which country would have to disappear for that "one" state to come into existence?
The Khalidis and Obamas were good friends. In his capacity as a director of the Woods Fund, Obama in 2001 and 2002 steered $75,000 to the Arab American Action Network, the brainchild of Rashid and Mona Khalidi. According to an L.A. Times account of the dinner, Obama mentioned that he and Michelle had been frequent dinner guests at the Khalidi home (just another guy in the neighborhood?) and that the Khalidis had even baby-sat for the Obama girls. Like William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, the Khalidis held a fundraiser for Obama in their living room when he unsuccessfully sought a House seat. At the farewell dinner, according to the L.A. Times, Obama apparently related fondly his "many talks" with the Khalidis. Perhaps that's where he learned, as he told the Des Moines Register that "Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people." Obama told the crowd that those talks with the Khalidis had been "consistent reminders to me of my own blind spots . . . It's for that reason that I'm hoping that, for many years to come, we continue that conversation — a conversation that is necessary not just around Mona and Rashid's dinner table" but around "this entire world."
Even less attention has been paid to the man Obama appointed as his emissary to the Muslim community in the U.S., Mazen Asbahi. Asbahi, it turned out, had ties to the Islamic Society of North America, which in turn was an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case. The Holy Land Foundation was accused of being a front group for Hamas. When news of these associations became public, Asbahi resigned from the campaign to "avoid distracting from Barack Obama's message of change." And don't forget hope!
Many American Jews preparing to pull the lever for Obama have never heard of Asbahi. But they surely know about Jeremiah Wright. They know that he gave a "lifetime achievement" award to Louis Farrakhan; that he supported efforts to get U.S. businesses to divest from Israel; that he gave space in the Trinity Church bulletin to Hamas; and that he has accused Israel of "genocide" against the Palestinians. They are preparing to vote for a man who tamely tolerated all of that (and more) for 20 years.
Someone is making a big mistake — and it isn't Abu Jayyab.
5) LESSONS IN DISASTER: What Vietnam teaches us
By Henry A. Kissinger
For America, the Vietnam War was the traumatic event of the second half of the last century.
Entered into with a brash self-confidence after a decade and a half of creative and successful foreign policy, our engagement ended with America as divided as it had not been since the Civil War. As a result, Congress cut off aid to Vietnam two years after the troops had been withdrawn, and the last Americans left Saigon by helicopter from the roof of our embassy.
No account of that period adequate to the emotion and drama of the time has yet appeared. The dwindling number of witnesses of the period remains traumatized by its passions or divided by their own pasts.
For younger leaders, an understanding of the controversies of their fathers has proved elusive, obliging them to slide into the same dilemmas in their contemporary policies.
"Lessons in Disaster: McGeorge Bundy and the Path to War in Vietnam" does not fill that vacuum. It does, however, illuminate the five years (1961-1966) during which the defense of South Vietnam was Americanized. Tracing the efforts of one of the most prominent public servants of the time, it seeks to come to terms with America's entry into its tragedy.
Brilliant and fiercely articulate, McGeorge Bundy was a warm and thoughtful human being behind the Boston Brahmin crust. He had had a spectacular academic career, becoming the dean of the faculty at the age of 34. He was the dean when I was at Harvard.
In 1961, John F. Kennedy appointed Bundy (a Republican) as National Security Adviser. Bundy created the modern portfolio of that position. Since the flow of memoranda from various departments concerned with national security had become too vast, Bundy's office turned into a clearinghouse. Ever since, the National Security Council has prepared the range of options among which the president chooses.
For five years, Bundy performed his duties with articulateness and deftness. This included the Berlin crisis, the Cuban missile period and the nuclear test ban agreement. His grip loosened with the decline in the fortunes of the Vietnam War, whose public advocate and, to some extent, co-manager he had become.
Bundy became the target of David Halberstam's "The Best and the Brightest," which used him to illustrate the thesis that the cream of the establishment led America astray in Vietnam. The book set the tone for most of the subsequent assessment of the war. Bundy bore the opprobrium with dignity, never answering the criticisms directly and perhaps privately agreeing with some of them. He retired in 1966, never to hold public office again.
Toward the end of his life, he began, with a research assistant, to assemble materials for reconstructing the events that had pushed America from hope to despair. He died before he could begin the manuscript. Bundy's researcher, Gordon M. Goldstein, has now turned their collaborative effort and some fragments of Bundy's writing into "Lessons in Disaster." It's his own effort, representing the researcher's view, not authorized by the Bundy family. It is also a strange yet fascinating book.
No one is said to be a hero to his valet; this book permits one to extend the truism to research assistants. "Lessons in Disaster" is relentlessly hostile to its subject - not so much to Bundy's person, whom it treats respectfully, as his policies.
The book is an illuminating window into a seminal time. It is also further evidence of the inability of America to transcend the debates that tore it apart a generation ago.
Bundy successfully managed the legacy of America's postwar policy in Europe and towards the Soviet Union. Where he failed was in extending to Southeast Asia the policies that reconstructed Europe and eventually won the Cold War.
The difficulty was that Southeast Asia presented a different strategic problem. In Europe, governmental institutions had survived the ravages of the Second World War. The threats they faced were to their economic expectations, compounded by the Soviet troops along their borders. The Marshall Plan took care of the first threat; NATO addressed the second.
None of these conditions existed in South Vietnam. The dividing line in Vietnam was technically a demilitarized zone never accepted as an international frontier by Hanoi, attempting to undermine governmental institutions by guerrilla warfare.
In this war without front lines, military containment took on a different meaning. In Europe, the basic challenge was territorial integrity; in Southeast Asia, it was governmental legitimacy. The new Kennedy administration paid lip service to this distinction, but never solved how to act on it.
The administration accepted the conventional wisdom regarding the issues. Like its predecessors of both parties, it assumed containment to be indivisible and the domino effect of the collapse of South Vietnam to be a kind of natural law.
It even added a philosophical refinement: Vietnam was no longer treated as one of many fronts in the global Cold War but as the central front. Conventional aggression having been stymied by NATO, guerrilla warfare needed to be similarly frustrated in Vietnam.
With the perspective of nearly four decades, it is possible to challenge these assumptions. Communism has proved not to be monolithic; the dominos did not fall with the collapse of South Vietnam (though 10 years of effort may have helped steady them); the problem of how to deal with guerrilla warfare has grown worse, not better.
Goldstein argues with some justice that Bundy should have raised these possibilities. But one must remember that governments run by addressing conventional wisdom, not by challenging it. Caught between established convictions and his premonitions, Bundy concentrated on managing the crises in terms of familiar patterns. The administration slid into a series of ad hoc decisions that preempted Kennedy's strategic choice.
Reading the book, one is struck by the informal, almost conversational, tone of the process as Bundy was feeling his way. Thus, in November 1961, Bundy wrote to the president: "The other day at the swimming pool, you asked me what I thought, and here it is. We should now agree to send about one division when needed for military action inside Vietnam." Goldstein reports no accompanying options paper, no definition of the meaning of "about one division" no desired strategic outcome.
Goldstein leaves little doubt that Kennedy was opposed to sending combat troops to Southeast Asia. It was more the result of a visceral reluctance than a strategic judgment. In fact, on the formal level Kennedy was ambivalent, torn between considering the survival of South Vietnam essential for national security and being loathe to achieve this goal with American combat forces.
That decision could be postponed in 1963, but it became unavoidable in 1965 when Lyndon B. Johnson was president and Vietnam was on the verge of collapse. As it happened, Johnson's options and his dilemmas were made more acute by a decision taken in the last weeks of the Kennedy presidency.
On a weekend when both Kennedy and Bundy were out of town, the assistant secretary of state, together with an NSC staffer, contrived an instruction to the U.S. ambassador in Saigon that was used to trigger a military coup. President Ngo Dinh Diem and his brother were assassinated and a series of coups. Hanoi saw in this turmoil an opportunity to introduce regular combat troops into the South.
Kennedy was assassinated three weeks later. The decision to send combat troops became Johnson's. Goldstein traces the evolution of the debate, in which the principal advisors - Dean Rusk, Robert McNamara and Bundy - and the Joint Chiefs of Staff strongly advocated a significant build-up of combat forces.
Goldstein argues that Kennedy, while accepting the domino theory, would have lived with its consequences, including the Communization of all of Southeast Asia, rather than send a large expeditionary force to Southeast Asia. But we cannot know his reaction had he been presented with the united views of his principal foreign policy and security advisors.
When America goes to war, it should be able to describe to itself how it defines victory and how it proposes to achieve it. Or else how it proposes to end its military engagement and by what diplomacy. In Vietnam, America sent combat forces on behalf of a general notion of credibility and in pursuit of a negotiation whose content was never defined.
The credibility point was reflected in an amazing Bundy statement quoted by Goldstein: that it would be better for America's credibility to lose after sending 100,000 men than not to have resisted Hanoi at all.
Another self-inflicted handicap was the reluctance to view Indochina as a single strategic theater. Eisenhower was almost certainly right when he described a defense of Laos as essential to the defense of Vietnam. But Bundy resisted that proposition with the argument to Kennedy, according to Goldstein, that "Laos was never really ours after 1954. South Vietnam is and wants to be." This distinction produced the anomalous situation in which half a million Americans fought to achieve a stalemate in Vietnam, a military objective rendered nearly impossible by enemy bases in Cambodia and supply lines through Laos.
As for negotiation, Bundy argued that once Hanoi's efforts to dominate South Vietnam were thwarted, an undefined compromise would emerge through diplomacy - in effect, a strategy seeking stalemate, not victory.
But stalemate violates the maxim that the guerrilla wins if he does not lose. The effort required to bring about a compromise was indistinguishable from the requirements of victory - as the administration in which I served had to learn from bitter experience.
A reviewer cannot pretend to sum up a generation's travail in a book review. A few observations will be in order:
When the president is asked to consider going to war, he must be presented, above all, with an analysis of the global strategic situation on which the recommendation is based.
The purpose of war is victory. Stalemate is a last resort, not a desirable strategic objective.
Victory needs to be defined as an outcome achievable in a time period sustainable by American public opinion.
There has to be presented to the president a sustainable diplomatic framework.
Diplomacy and strategy must be treated as a whole, not as successive phases of policy.
Authority for diplomacy and strategy must be clearly assigned.
The administration as well as critics should conduct their debates with the restraint imposed by the knowledge that the unity of our society has been the hope of the world.
Should Bundy have come to conclusions such as these earlier? To do so, Bundy would have had to abjure the views of a generation avowed since Truman's disputes with MacArthur 15 years earlier, that force should be applied in minimum increments; that strategy and diplomacy were separate spheres to be conducted consecutively; that American principles applied in an undifferentiated manner globally were established maxims of a successful policy.
These principles were implemented in Vietnam in the early 1960s by the best, not the worst, of their generation. If the policymakers lacked perspective, their critics lacked compassion.
Throughout history, every problem America had recognized had proved soluble by the application of resources and idealism. Vietnam proved obdurate. Mourning the assassination of a president with whom it had identified, and perplexed by an impasse to which its own theories had contributed, the intellectual establishment ascribed its traumas to a failure of the American experience and the moral inadequacy of its leaders.
This turned the national debate from an argument over feasibility into a crusade increasingly settled by confrontations designed to demonstrate a moral indictment. In that sense, Bundy was victim as much as cause of the forces unleashed as America was obliged to adapt its history to a changing world.