23 September 2014

Nope. Not at All Like a Brush War in Indochina.

The inimitable Charlie Pierce pulls some quotes from the early 1960s:
My Esky colleague John H. Richardson whiles away the slow days by immersing himself in recently declassified CIA documents. (Buy his book to find out why, dammit.) This is a very valuable habit he has, at least to those of John's friends who write political blogs for a living. So, the other day, he hipped me to some recently declassified CIA material, specifically National Intelligence Estimates dated April 17, 1963 and titled "Prospects In South Vietnam." These concerned, among other things, the CIA's assessment of the relative strength of the Viet Cong in our adopted Indochinese client state. There's some material that seems almost unbearably sad in retrospect:
We believe that Communist progress has been blunted and that the situation is improving. Strengthened South Vietnamese capabilities and effectiveness, and particularly US involvement, are causing the Viet Cong great difficulty, although there are as yet no persuasive indications that the Communists have been grievously hurt.


For weapons, ammunition, and related supplies, the Viet Cong rely primarily upon capture from government forces.


Nevertheless, the heavy US involvement and close working relationships between US and Vietnamese personnel have fundamentally altered the outlook...Developments in the past year or two have gone some distance in establishing a basis for winning over the peasantry and in improving the efficiency and the civilian bureaucracy...


Developments during the last year or two also show some promise of resolving the political weaknesses, particularly that of insecurity in the countryside, upon which the insurgency has fed. However, the government's capacity to embark on the broader measures required to translate military success into lasting political stability is questionable.
History may not repeat itself, but it rhymes.

We are so f%$#ed.


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