Back in October, 2014, Sheryl Grey Stolberg of The New York Times described an ongoing Pentagon project to produce an official history of the U.S. War on Vietnam, to be formally introduced on Memorial Day, 2015, noted as the 50th anniversary of the War. Many then anti-war activists, and historians, including Tom Hayden, Daniel Ellsberg and Julian Bond, leading a group of more than 500 scholars, veterans and activists, have signed a petition demanding the opportunity to correct the Pentagon's version of events. Some of the Pentagon version is already appearing on a website. Numerous errors and omissions have already been identified by the historians and then-anti-war activists. Some of them are mentioned in the New York Times Article, for example, calling the My Lai Massacre the My Lai Incident (sic) and neglecting to put the famous 1971 hearings organized by Sen. Fulbright into the "Timeline."
Other omissions, not mentioned in the Times article (which does have limits on space), would include: a discussion of the false flag "Tonkin Gulf incident;" the fact that a future Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Secretary of State, and "mis-speaker" on the Iraq question before the UN, Colin Powell, was, as a junior officer, in the chain of command that slowed down the reporting upwards of what had really happened at My Lai; and that as a candidate for President in 1968, candidate Richard Nixon, committing treason, secretly negotiated with the then-government of "South Viet Nam" to make sure that no peace agreement was reached at the 1968 Paris Peace Talks, before the election. And so on and so forth.
But the most egregious error would be making the starting date of the U.S. War on Viet Nam 1965. For it actually started in 1954. It would not become a military action until some years later, but the preparations for such action began then. The French-Vietnamese War began in 1946, when following the Japanese withdrawal at the end of World War II France, supported by the United States, attempted to re-assert its colonial hold on what in the West was called at the time French Indo-China. That war ended in 1954 with the Vietnamese victory at Dien ben Phu. The Geneva Conference of that year produced a treaty signed by the French and the Vietnamese and guaranteed by Great Britain and the Soviet Union. It brought hostilities to an end, temporarily divided the country in two, and provided for national elections to be held in 1956 -- elections that everyone knew would be won by Ho Chi Minh and his people.
Pointedly, the US refused to sign or recognize the treaty. It knew that if the plan in it were allowed to proceed, the chances were very good that Vietnam would peacefully progress to socialism and could be an economic success. If that happened, the same thing might well peacefully occur in other Southeast Asian countries, were democracy to be given a chance. The "domino theory" about the spread of "socialism with a national face," peaceful as it might well have happened, distinguished from and not necessarily allied with the Soviet Union, and certainly not with the traditional enemy, China, communist or not, was quite correct. From the viewpoint of the US ruling class, everything had to be done that could be done to prevent the democratic process from introducing socialism to a country and then possibly succeeding in a peaceful setting.
And so, in the view of the US leadership of the time, predominately the Dulles Brothers, John Foster and Allen (two Nuremberg-class criminals who escaped the gallows by "right of victor"), everything had to be done that could be done to prevent the democratic process from introducing socialism to a country and then possibly succeeding in a peaceful setting. Covert American intervention in Vietnam, which eventually led directly to the US War on Viet Nam, began around 1956, when the country was artificially split into two. Eventually a "South" Vietnamese, anti-nationalist, army was created and at some point "Vietnamization" of the war (referring to those Vietnamese who fought on the US side) against the Ho Chi Minh communist-nationalists appeared to be a real possibility. But in the end "Vietnamization" never happened, major US military intervention did, what in this country is referred as the "Viet Nam War" occurred, and after 57,000 US military deaths and 2-3,000,000 Vietnamese deaths of all kinds, the US eventually withdrew.
However, what is not likely to be mentioned in the Pentagon version of history, and most anti-Viet Nam War scholars and former activists don't recognize either, is the fact that in terms of its original objectives, the United States won its War on Viet Nam.
"Victory?" you might be saying at this point? "American victory" in Vietnam? We lost, didn't we? Well, militarily we seemed to have lost. Nixon began the military disengagement, and the final pullout took place under President Ford, with those haunting photographs of people leaving by helicopter from the roof of the US embassy in Saigon, as the legitimate government of Vietnam entered the city, providing a visual exclamation point. But if one examines what happened in terms of those original goals for the US Vietnam intervention, set by Eisenhower and the Dulles brothers in the 1950s, the US won: their goals were achieved.
In the view of the US leadership of the time, everything had to be done that could be done to prevent the democratic process from introducing socialism to a country and then possibly succeeding in a peaceful setting. The peaceful establishment of socialism in Viet Nam was prevented. Its spread by example and peaceful means to neighboring countries was prevented. Vietnam today has a sort of market socialist economy, becoming more "market" and less "socialist" by the year. But the country was ravaged by almost 20 years of war and two to three million of the best and the brightest of its people were killed. It is hardly the economic or social engine of the development of democratically-installed socialism that it might have become had it been left alone. In terms of the original American goals for the intervention, this was thus a win, a palpable win.