Vietnam (Continuación)

Walt Rostow, third from left, speaking to Lyndon Johnson in the Oval Office in 1967. Between them, in the background, is Robert McNamara. Credit LBJ Presidential Library

As Gen. H. R. McMaster, the national security adviser, wrote in his book “Dereliction of Duty,” the early stages of the Vietnam War caught America’s military leaders flat-footed. Having gone through World War II and Korea, they were all ready for a conventional war. But insurgencies and unconventional warfare were something else. As a result, they were inordinately acquiescent to the wishful thinking of their civilian overseers — and no one thought more wishfully about the war than Walt Whitman Rostow.

A Yale Ph.D. and a Rhodes scholar, Rostow left his academic perch at M.I.T. to join the State Department under John F.…  Seguir leyendo »

A view of a forest land clearing in South Aceh, Indonesia. Photo: Getty Images

Illegal logging and the associated trade is a major cause of deforestation and forest degradation and accounts for a large proportion of forest sector activities around the world. Trade in illegal timber can be highly lucrative and involves the buying and selling of timber which may have been harvested, transported or processed illicitly.

This year, Vietnam became the seventh country to conclude negotiations with the European Union for a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA). The agreement aims to tackle illegal logging, improve forest governance and promote trade in verified and licensed legal timber products from Vietnam to European and international markets. Earlier in 2017, Indonesia – one of the world’s largest timber exporters – became the first country to officially issue licensed timber under the agreement.…  Seguir leyendo »

I first visited the United States in the summer of 1998, when I was invited to attend a literary conference in Montana with four other Vietnamese writers. We flew from Hanoi to Taiwan to Los Angeles. As we crossed the Pacific Ocean, passing through many time zones, I buried myself in sleep and woke up only when the plane hit the tarmac. At passport control, we found ourselves in a huge hall, and I was abruptly taken aback: There were Americans all around us, lots of them! I will never forget that strange feeling. It was bizarre, unbelievable, surreal, that I, a veteran of the Vietnamese People’s Army, was in the United States, surrounded by Americans.…  Seguir leyendo »

Members of the South Vietnamese Constituent Assembly voting in 1967 to confirm the election of Nguyen Van Thieu as president. Credit Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

Tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of Vietnam’s most democratic election.

Admittedly, this is a low bar. And to be sure, though the 1967 South Vietnamese presidential election was conducted with more propriety than Saigon’s previous debacles, which were typically won with 98 percent of the vote, or than the North’s one-party, pro forma affairs, it was an event likewise riddled with vote-rigging and intimidation. The result, a modest victory for the military slate, was certain even before campaigning began.

But if its administration was less than impartial, it was still one of the most important moments in the short life of the Republic of South Vietnam, and an underappreciated moment in the history of the Vietnam War.…  Seguir leyendo »

The North Vietnamese Communist Party leader Le Duan strengthened the “counter counterrevolutionary” campaign to quell dissent against the war. Credit Nehon Denpa News/Associated Press

When we think back to the signal events of the antiwar movement in 1967, we recall the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s powerful April 4 speech denouncing the war, the thousands of returned registration cards during the “Stop the Draft” week, and the March on the Pentagon that brought record numbers of demonstrators to the nation’s capital.

That year also witnessed global protests condemning the war, as demonstrations in European capitals and the International War Crimes Tribunal issued powerful rebukes against American intervention in Southeast Asia. News coverage of the war also shifted that year, including the first call by The New York Times for a halt to the bombing and the initiation of peace talks.…  Seguir leyendo »

Demonstrators trying to return their draft cards in New York City on Oct. 16, 1967. Credit Jack Manning/The New York Times

Growing up in Fresno, Calif., I believed in “my country, right or wrong,” just like everyone I knew. I could not have anticipated that when I came of age I would realize that my country was wrong and that I would have to do something about it. When I did, everything changed for me.

I went from Fresno High School Boy of the Year 1963, Stanford Class of 1967, to Prisoner 4697-159, C Block, maximum security, La Tuna Federal Correctional Institution, near El Paso.

I was among the quarter-million to half-million men who violated the law that required us to register for military service and face deployment to Vietnam — the draft.…  Seguir leyendo »

Butch Eakins, standing, with Ronnie Bryan, seated on left, and the author in Vietnam.

It was the spring of 1966 and I was 19 years old, working nights at a General Motors plant in Van Nuys, Calif., and attending day classes at Pierce College, carrying 12 credits and a student deferment status. I owned a brand new 1965 Chevelle Malibu Super Sport, and I had a gorgeous girlfriend. Life was simply great! But I soon grew weary of my college curriculum and dropped out, intending to resume the following semester.

The next thing I knew, Uncle Sam sent his greeting. It read, “You are hereby ordered for induction to the Armed Forces of the United States.”…  Seguir leyendo »

Ken Burns has already directed landmark documentaries on the Civil War and World War II, but the Vietnam War was a different challenge entirely. From the Vietnamese declaration of independence in 1945 to the fall of Saigon 30 years later, the war killed millions of civilians and combatants and left deep fissures in American society, creating cultural and political rifts that still divide the country.

In a TimesTalks event on Thursday, Mr. Burns and his co-director, Lynn Novick, along with the veteran and novelist Karl Marlantes and the Vietnamese-American memoirist Duong Van Mai Elliott, spoke about the war and its legacy with James Bennet, the editorial page editor of The New York Times.

A video of the conversation is below:

President Lyndon Johnson with Robert McNamara, right, and Dean Rusk in 1967. Credit Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Perhaps no question hovers more ominously over the history of the Vietnam War in 1967 than this: If the United States and its Vietnamese adversaries had been able to hammer out an acceptable peace deal before the major escalation of the 1968 Tet offensive, hundreds of thousands of lives would have been saved. Was such a peace possible?

For years, pundits and policy makers have speculated on this possibility. Many argue that escalation was irreversible, that the adversaries’ collective fate, as it were, was sealed. But recent scholarship has pointed in a different direction. The prospects of peace were arguably brighter than we once thought.…  Seguir leyendo »

Plasma being given to a wounded soldier on a ridge in Dak To, South Vietnam, in November 1967, as another soldier races into battle. Credit Dana Stone/Bettmann Archive, via Getty Images

There are some events that can be understood only with the perspective of time. The war in Vietnam is one.

It was June 21, 1989, and I was interviewing a diminutive man with four stars on the epaulets of his dark green uniform shirt. We were talking in what had once been the mansion of a French colonial governor in Hanoi. The man was Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, the Vietnamese military genius who had led his country to victory, first against France’s attempt to reimpose colonial rule in the aftermath of World War II, then against the unparalleled might of the United States when it subsequently sought to permanently divide Vietnam and install a client state in Saigon.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ellsworth Bunker, left, presenting his credentials as new ambassador of the U.S. to South Vietnam, to Nguyen Van Thieu on April 28, 1967. Credit Associated Press

On Oct. 14, 1966, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, who had been principally responsible for waging war against the Communists in South Vietnam, threw in the towel. A little over a year before he officially resigned as secretary, he sent a long memorandum to President Lyndon Johnson, artfully admitting that he and his Pentagon had no strategy to end the war on favorable terms for the South Vietnamese.

Johnson quickly turned to others for a new approach. A month after McNamara’s memo, the president asked two aides — Walt Rostow, his national security adviser, and Robert Komer, a National Security Council staff member — to come up with something more effective than McNamara’s tactics of attrition and bombing.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ronald Steinman’s press card, 1972

I arrived in Saigon in mid-April 1966 as the new NBC bureau chief. My job, simply defined, was to supply NBC News with an endless story of the war. I understood there would be no letup, no relief day to day as our stories poured from the bureau.

Vietnam was the first truly televised war; the war and the medium through which millions of Americans experienced it were inextricable. To understand the war, one needs to understand how NBC — and our colleagues at CBS and ABC — shaped how that story was told.

Those of us in broadcast news understood our role clearly.…  Seguir leyendo »

Wayne Schell beside his F-100 Super Sabre.

The heat was suffocating as we got off the Continental charter flight that late summer afternoon in 1966 at South Vietnam’s sprawling Bien Hoa Air Base, but I was more amazed at the incredible activity everywhere. There were other charter planes arriving, constant flights of F-100 and F-5 fighters taking off and landing, lumbering C-130 transports loading and unloading. There was a U-2 circling above the base as it soared to high altitudes for a reconnaissance mission. There were lines of soldiers getting onto another Continental flight, heading home. I soon learned that the thing everyone in the military kept track of, even more than the daily body count, was the countdown to rotating home — “121 days and counting,” someone would say.…  Seguir leyendo »

A casualty of the Battle of Hill 881, near Khe Sanh, South Vietnam.

Very few women went to Vietnam as journalists, and even fewer as dedicated war photojournalists. In fact, for most of the 1960s, there were only two: Dickie Chapelle, who was killed by a grenade in 1965, and Catherine Leroy.

Leroy was widely considered the most daring photographer in Vietnam. She almost certainly spent the most time in combat — in part because she had no money, having traveled from her native France to Vietnam as a freelancer in 1966 with no contracts and a short list of published work. Living with soldiers meant that she could eat rations and sleep in the countryside.…  Seguir leyendo »

For many in Vietnam, memories of what took place remain vivid. I recently visited Nguyen Thi Do, a former nurse with the National Liberation Front, also known as the Vietcong. After 10 years of wartime service, Ms. Do moved to Qui Nhon, a beachfront city in her home province on Vietnam’s Central Coast, where she helped administer a fishing company until retiring in 1989. She invited me into her living room with its stylish wooden furnishings, poured two cups of green tea, and shared her story.

When I was 17, National Liberation Front recruiters came to my village, Lo Dieu in the Hoai Nhon District of Binh Dinh Province.…  Seguir leyendo »

William Eastlake’s Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV) ID Card, 1967.Credit William Eastlake Papers, University of Arizona Libraries, Special Collections

In 2012, the Iraq veteran and author Ben Fountain won the National Book Critics Circle Award for his book “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.” The novel — Mr. Fountain’s first — was also a finalist for the National Book Award, along with another debut novel, Kevin Powers’s “The Yellow Birds,” which received the 2013 PEN/Hemingway award for first fiction. Both are American novels about the Iraq war. In the half-decade since, literature about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars — much, but not all, by veterans of those wars — has done much to shape the cultural commentary on America’s latest military engagements, even as thousands of American service members remain in the regions.…  Seguir leyendo »

A search and destroy operation in South Vietnam in the summer of 1967. H.D.S. Greenway

They were burning brush, as they always do in the dry season, when my plane came in over the Vietnamese coast at dusk. Descending into Saigon, I could see fires burning below me, and in my naïveté I thought I was seeing the ravages of war.

I had never been to Asia before, never been in a war zone. I was as green as could be, about to become a war correspondent in Time magazine’s Saigon bureau with my nose pressed against the glass. And when I landed into the chaos of Ton Son Nhut airport on that hot, sticky night in March 1967, there were flares, illumination rounds, lighting up the night sky, I knew not why.…  Seguir leyendo »

Soldiers moving through rough terrain searching for Viet Cong near Tuy Hoa, during Operation Harrison in 1966. Credit Robert C. Lafoon/U.S. Army, via National Archives

With 11,000 men killed and little to show for it, 1967, in retrospect, is remembered as a year of concern for the United States in the Vietnam War. But at the time, optimism reigned. The offensive operations by American military forces throughout 1966 had halted the gains of the People’s Army of Vietnam and the People’s Liberation Armed Forces (known to its enemies as the Viet Cong). Those gains, combined with mounting efforts to “pacify” the civilian population, seemed to point the way toward victory — if not in 1967, then soon after.

Pacification involved various strategies to remove Communist influence from rural South Vietnam.…  Seguir leyendo »

Abba Eban, center left, was Israel’s main contact with President Lyndon B. Johnson in the tense diplomacy that preceded the 1967 Middle East war. Credit Corbis, via Getty Images

On May 22, 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson received alarming news from the Middle East. The government of Egypt had closed the Straits of Tiran, the narrow waterway linking the Red Sea to Israel, to Israeli shipping. The move dramatically escalated Arab-Israeli tensions and pushed the region to the brink of war.

Johnson’s instinct was to act boldly to defuse the crisis. He proposed assembling an American-led naval force to escort Israeli ships through the straits and push Egypt to back down. But L.B.J. soon discovered problems.

For one, Congress, wary of new military commitments when nearly half a million Americans were fighting in Vietnam, seemed certain to oppose the idea.…  Seguir leyendo »

Nguyen Van Thieu, left, and Nguyen Cao Ky, center, after a successful battle in 1966. Credit Co Rentmeester/The LIFE Picture Collection, via Getty Images

Buddhists against Catholics. Northerners against southerners. Civilians against the military. Capital against periphery. Ethnic Vietnamese against ethnic minorities. In 1967, anti-Communist South Vietnam was a caldron of overlapping rivalries, precipitating and reinforcing the political chaos consuming the country after President Ngo Dinh Diem’s 1963 assassination during a military coup.

But in the realm of high politics, it was the showdown between two rival generals, Nguyen Cao Ky and Nguyen Van Thieu, that loomed largest for most political observers. Both men were young and ambitious, and both were shrewd navigators of the internecine schemes and coups plaguing South Vietnam’s ruling military. And after years of jousting and coalition building, they were headed for a confrontation in South Vietnam’s 1967 presidential election.…  Seguir leyendo »