By Guenter Lewy
1978 ebook on the United States in Vietnam.
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Extra info for America in Vietnam: Illusion, Myth and Reality
Harkins. Both Westmoreland and Lodge favored some new vigorous American military commitment such as air strikes against Laos or North Vietnam in order to put new confidence into the South Vietnamese leadership. Premier Khanh himself argued strongly for the bombing of the North, and the JCS, too, kept up the pressure for an early beginning of such a bombing campaign. S. S. 98 "I was determined, from the time I became President," Johnson recalls in his memoirs, "to seek the fullest support of Congress for any major action that I took.
This program of systematic terror, known as "the extermination of traitors," predictably goaded the Diem regime into stepping up its clumsily pursued and often brutal antiterrorist campaign, creating an air of capricious lawlessness. "But the more the people were terrorized," recalls a prominent defector, "the more they reacted in opposition, yet the more they reacted, the more violently they were terrorized. Continue this until the situation is truly ripe, and it will explode . . we had to make the people suffer, suffer until they could no longer endure it.
Even Fulbright assured the secretary, "I never meant to leave the impression that I thought you were deliberately trying to deceive us. . 112 By then the Gulf of Tonkin affair had become the symbol and outstanding example of the duplicity for which the Johnson administration was being condemned. The allegation that the second attack was provoked is no more substanTHE ROOTS OF INVOLVEMENT 35 tiated. As the authors of the Pentagon Papers point out in their account, not meant for public consumption, the modification of the course of the destroyers and the extension of the distance from the coast they were to observe indicate an intention to avoid—not provoke—further contact.