Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Who said he was dead?

John Vann in Afghanistan

"The cause of securing our country is not complete. But tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history, whether it’s the pursuit of prosperity for our people, or the struggle for equality for all our citizens; our commitment to stand up for our values abroad, and our sacrifices to make the world a safer place.

"Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power, but because of who we are: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

"Thank you. May God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America."

Barack Obama
announcing the death of Osama bin Laden
May 2, 2011

"Word War 2 had been such a tremendous success story for this country that the political and military leadership of the country began to assume they would prevail, simply because of who they were…those generals thought they were going to win simply because they were American generals...."

“Some of it has sunk in, yes. Some of it's sunk in by the sheer force of what happened, because of course Vietnam has changed this country utterly. We will never be the same again. That is within the foreseeable future I think, because of Vietnam. And you do see some of that, yes. First of all, the President's limited now. No President can commit American soldiers and Marines and the Air Force etc., the American armed forces, with the freedom Johnson and Kennedy could, because the credibility of the President to do that has been damaged. It's been changed. People don't believe that he's got that ultimate wisdom any more.

“Secondly, I think the military leadership has a sense of its limitations. Excuse me, some of them of a sense of the limits of military force, that force is not always a solution to a foreign policy problem. When you see the papers of the military leaders of the 1960's, they're always telling the President force is the solution. Send the Army! Send the Marines! Send the Air Force! That'll solve your problem. Now you've got military leaders saying, look, wait, look before you intervene. All of these things, yes, again, some of it has sunk in. I don't think it's fully sunk in yet, no.”

Neil Sheehan
author of A Bright Shining Lie:John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam
Conversations with History
Remembering the Vietnam War
Interview with Harry Kreisler
November 14, 1988