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Kennedy increased the supply of weapons and soldiers sent in Vietnam.
As in Laos, the U.S. began to secretly bomb Cambodia in 1965 to order to impede the flow of arms to the NLF-NVA in South Vietnam. In March 1969, President Nixon significantly increased the aerial assaults under the codename MENU, while still keeping the raids secret from the American people, an amazing feat considering that 110,000 tons of bombs were dropped over a fourteen-month period. A Pentagon report, released in 1973, stated that Nixon’s national security adviser, “Henry A. Kissinger approved each of the 3,875 Cambodia bombing raids in 1969 and 1970 as well as the methods for keeping them out of the newspapers.” In March 1970, Cambodia fell into civil war after Defense Minister Lon Nol engineered a coup d’état. The U.S. backed the anticommunist Nol, sending U.S. forces into Cambodia in May and June. U.S. bombing continued until Congress passed legislation forcing the administration to end it in August 1973. All told, the U.S. dropped 2.7 million tons of bombs on Cambodia, an amount that exceeded the tonnage dropped on Laos. According to the diplomatic historian Greg Grandin:
The impetus to militant confrontation within the antiwar movement derived from an unwillingness to accept business-as-usual at home while the government pursued a murderous war in Vietnam, plucking young people from their normal lives to fight it. Although commonly identified with leftist groups, some groups on the left, notably SWP, steered clear of confrontational actions. Some radical pacifists, on the other hand, particularly Liberation co-editor David Dellinger, were fervent advocates of assertive-yet-nonviolent civil disobedience.
So why did the US become involved in the Vietnam War.
The Triple Alliance was composed of powers that did not have vast colonial lands to exploit, and the Germans, British, and French clashed frequently over African looting grounds. Germany supported Moroccan independence from France in 1911, which was part of the milieu that led to World War I. None of the imperial powers believed in imperialism…for their rivals. World War I saw the spectacle of each imperial power trying to incite uprisings amongst their rivals’ subjects. Lawrence of Arabia tried doing just that during World War I. He was a British agent who tried getting the Arabs to rise up against the Ottoman Empire. Russia wanted to carve the Ottoman Empire into nation-states, for self-serving reasons, while the UK and Austria wanted to keep it a weak empire, easily controlled. With the rise of industrialization during the late 19th century, . The Ottoman Empire was sitting on most of it and it leaned toward Germany. Accordingly, the Triple Entente made secret agreements to carve up the Ottoman Empire for themselves after World War II, known today as the .
While America secured its increasingly far-flung empire, Europe reached a crisis stage. It is probably wishful thinking to see either of the 20th century’s World Wars as little other than imperial conflicts, as latecomers to the game wanted their share of the global spoils, but the more established players kept the plunder for themselves. Instead of merely raping the world’s non-industrialized peoples, it was white armies and navies fighting each other, while the colonial lands were milked for soldiers and supplies. Germans trounced French armies in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1871, which saw France humiliated with the capture of Napoleon III, the siege of Paris, an occupying German army, and a heavy war indemnity levied on France, which France paid. From then until 1914, there was peace in Europe. It was not a restful peace. During the 1880s and 1890s, the French, English, and Russians formed the Triple Entente, and Germany, Austria, and Italy formed the Triple Alliance. Those would be the major players of World War I, which began with conflict in the Balkans. World War I would be the bloodiest war the world had ever seen, at least until the next one. Far more than 20 million people died in World War I, and about half of them were civilians.
military involvement in the Vietnam War.
Wells, The War Within, pp. 122-23; and Amy Swerdlow, Women Strike for Peace: Traditional Motherhood and Radical Politics in the 1960s (University of Chicago Press, 1993), pp. 167, 153.
Thomas D. Snyder, ed., National Center for Education Statistics, “120 Years of American Education: A Statistical Portrait,” January 1993, pp. 83-84, ; Joseph A. Fry, “Unpopular Messengers: Student Opposition to the Vietnam War,” in David L. Anderson and John Ernst, The War That Never Ends: New Perspectives on the Vietnam War (Lexington: Univ. of Kentucky Press, 2007), p. 221; and Harris and Gallup polls, October and November 1969, cited in DeBenedetti, An American Ordeal, p. 264.
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Rev. Martin Luther King, “Beyond Vietnam,” April 4, 1967
See Greiner, War Without Fronts; Deborah Nelson, The War Behind Me: Vietnam Veterans Confront the Truth About U.S. War Crimes (New York: Public Affairs, 2009); and Duffet, ed., Against the Crime of Silence, which includes testimony by international legal experts at the Stockholm (Sweden) War Crimes Trials sponsored by the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation in 1968. Russell, the 94-year-old philosopher who convened the hearings and whose antiwar activism extended back to World War I, wrote in the introduction: “war crimes are the actions of powers whose arrogance leads them to believe that they are above the law. Might they argue is right.” (Duffet, p. 4).
Vietnam vets doing guerrilla street theater in Connecticut
Quoted in Stuart W. Leslie, The Cold War and American Science: The Military-Industrial Academic Complex at MIT and Stanford (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), p. 238. The worker was Jim Kain, described as a clean shaven twenty-two-year-old graduate student from Alabama. His colleague William McFarland, 29, said he didn’t regard his work on military weapons as “evil. I think the American government is composed of rational men who do not sit around all day thinking of ways to kill people.” See also Jon Nordheimer, “Protests Disturb Lab Men at M.I.T.,” New York Times, November 9, 1969.
Young, The Vietnam Wars, pp. 69-72.
Young, The Vietnam Wars, p. 177; Eric Norden, “American Atrocities in Vietnam,” in Richard Falk, Gabriel Kolko, and Robert Jay Lifton, eds., Crimes of War (New York: Vintage Books, 1971), pp. 265-284; Herr, Dispatches; and Alfred W. McCoy, The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drugs Trade, rev ed. (New York: Lawrence Hill Books, 1991).
Gibbons, The U.S. Government and the Vietnam War, Vol. 2, p. 293.
In the 1790s, the new nation was quite weak. Giving grants of Indian land to soldiers was partly done because the government could not afford to pay them, so the government gave away what they had yet to possess. Washington waged war against the natives as soon as he became president. His strategy of fraudulent diplomacy and low-intensity conflict was not always sufficient. In 1791 the American army, a fighting force more than two thousand strong, led by Major General Arthur St. Clair, invaded the Ohio River Valley and was trounced by a smaller contingent of native warriors in present day Ohio, not far from Dayton. That defeat saw the greatest proportional casualties that the American army ever suffered. Washington, sobered by the disaster, was able to commit more than a million dollars, a large sum in those days, to making the American military more formidable. Within a few years, the American conquest of the upper Ohio River Valley was complete, with the Battle of Fallen Timbers won in 1794 and the Greenville Treaty signed in 1795, which the USA violated in short order, as future president William Henry Harrison led the swindle of the natives. Harrison’s efforts helped lead to campaign to unite the native tribes to resist further invasion. The USA's expansionism, not only against the native tribes, but also against its European rivals, helped lead to the War of 1812, although that aspect of the war’s dynamic is generally minimized or missing from the mainstream histories. After the War of 1812, the Indians no longer received help from Europe, particularly the UK; they were on their own against the American government and "settlers" who coveted their land.
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