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tv   1966 Fulbright Vietnam Hearings General Maxwell Taylor  CSPAN  February 21, 2016 4:10pm-5:45pm EST

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respected general taylor. general taylor had a lot of gravitas. he worked for john kennedy, dwight eisenhower, lyndon johnson, had been our ambassador there. they gave him a lot of leeway. there was a great deal of respect for anybody in a military uniform. even if they disagreed with him. but general taylor brought a great deal of american attitude towards this war. people deferred to that. this generation of senators was the generation that fought world war ii, and they sort of saw this as the continuation. in fact, the administration used world war ii analogies, trying to make vietnam into a second world war essentially. that was an appealing argument to a large part of the united states who had fought in the second world war and believed
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this was the mission of the united states. it divided parents and children, very much so. even robert mcnamara's own children rebelled against the war at the time. a lot of senators had great arguments when they went home and had dinner with their families. sen. fulbright: we are privileged this morning to have as our witness general maxwell taylor, one of the ablest military leaders we have had in this country in many years. his record of distinguished service to the nation goes back nearly 45 years. he was an outstanding combat leader in world war ii and in korea, and went on through progressively more responsible positions to become chief of staff of the army and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. few men have played such a significant role in the developments leading to our current involvement in vietnam.
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for the last five years, general taylor has been associated intimately with the making of vietnamese policy decisions. as personal military representative of president kennedy in 1961 and 1962, as chairman of the joint chief of staff from 1962 to 1964, and as our ambassador to south vietnam in 1964 and 1965. and he is now special consultant to the president and accompanied him to the recent conference in honolulu. general taylor, we are very pleased to have you. of course we have had you often , before and are very familiar with you. we welcome you to make whatever statement you choose. gen. taylor: mr. chairman and gentlemen, i want to thank you, mr. chairman and the members of the committee, for your willingness to hear my views on the situation in south vietnam.
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i am afraid they will not be new to many of you since you will have often have heard me express them when i was an official of the government. i agree with the motivating purpose of these hearings, namely to analyze the reasons why we are involved in south vietnam, the importance of this involvement, and the effectiveness with which we are dealing with the problem. if my personal views can clarify these points, i will be most happy to present them. for the purpose of providing a basis for our subsequent discussion, with your permission, mr. chairman, i would like to make a continuous statement which will undertake to answer three basic questions. first, what are we doing in south vietnam? secondly, how are we doing it? and finally, can we improve upon what we are doing? a simple statement of what we are doing in south vietnam is to say that we are engaged in a clash of purpose and interest with the militant wing of the
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communist movement represented by hanoi, the viet cong. and pete king. -- and peking. opposing these communist forces stands the government and people of south vietnam, supported primarily by the united states, but assisted in varying degree by some 30 other nations. the purpose of the hanoi cap is perfectly clear and has been since 1954. it is to absorb the 15 million of south vietnam into a single communist state under the leadership of ho chi minh and his associates in hanoi. in the course of encompassing this, the composting communist leaders expect to undermine the position of the united states in asia and to demonstrate the efficacy of the so-called war of liberation as a cheap, safe, disavowable -- technique for the expansion of
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communism. our purpose is equally clear and easily defined. in his baltimore speech of april 7, 1965, president johnson did so in the following terms. our objective is the independence of south vietnam and its freedom from attack. we want nothing for ourselves, only that the people of south vietnam be allowed to guide their own country in their own way. this has been our basic objective since 1954. it has been pursued by three successive administrations and remains our basic objective today. like the communists, we have secondary objectives. derived from the basic ones. we intend to show that the war of liberation, far from being cheap, safe and disavowable is costly, dangerous and doomed to , failure. we must destroy the myth of its invincibility in order to protect the independence of many weak nations which are vulnerable targets for
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subversive aggression, to use the proper term for the war of liberation. we cannot leave while force and violence threaten them. the question has been raised as to whether this clash of interests is really important to us. an easy and incomplete answer would be that is it must be important to us since it is considered so important by the other side. their leadership has made it quite clear that they regard south vietnam as the testing ground for the war of liberation, and after its anticipated success there, it will be widely used about the world. in the interview of last september, he said we believe that national liberation wars are just wars, and they will continue as long as there is national oppression by imperialist powers. before him, khrushchev in january had the following to say. now a word about national
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liberation war. the armed struggle by the vietnamese people or the war of the algerian people serve as the latest example of such wars. these are revolutionary wars. such wars are not only admissible, but inevitable. can such wars flare up in the future? they can. the communists fully support such just wars and march in the front lines of people waging liberation struggles. the commander in chief of the north vietnamese forces has made the following comment, south vietnam is a model of the national liberation movement of our time. if the special warfare that the united states imperialists are testing in south vietnam is overcome, then it can be defeated anywhere in the world. the minister of defense of communist china in a long statement of policy on september 1965 described in detail how mao
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zedong will utilize the war of liberation to expand communism in latin america, africa, and asia. these testimonials show that apart from the goal of imposing communism on 15 million south vietnamese, the success of the war of liberation is in itself an important objective of the communist leadership. on our side, we can understand the great consequences of this for us. president eisenhower in 1959 stressed the military importance of defending southeast asia in the following terms. he said, strategically, south vietnam's capture by the communists would bring their power several hundred miles into a hitherto free region. the remaining countries of southeast asia would be menaced a great flanking movement. the loss of south vietnam would set in motion a crumbling process, which could as it progresses have grave consequences for the forces of
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freedom. now this view has often been referred to as the domino theory. i personally do not believe in such a theory if it means belief in a law of nature which requires the collapse of each neighboring state in an inevitable sequence following a communist victory in south vietnam. however, i am deeply impressed with the probable effects worldwide not necessarily in , areas contiguous to south vietnam, if the war of liberation scores a significant victory there. president kennedy commented on this danger with moving eloquence. he said the great battleground for the defense and expansion of freedom today is the southern half of the globe, asia, latin america, africa, and the middle east. the lands of the people who harbor the greatest hope. the enemies of freedom think they can destroy the hopes of
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newer nations, and they aim to do it before the end of this decade. this is a struggle of will and determination, as much as one of force and violence. it is a battle for the conquest of the minds and souls, as much as the conquest of lives and territory. in such a struggle, we cannot fail to take sides. that ends the quotation from the president. gentlemen, i think a simple answer to the question, what are we doing in south vietnam is to say that for more than a decade we have been taking sides in a , cause for which we have a vital stake. my second question was, how are we doing in the pursuit of our objectives in south vietnam? both sides in the struggle have over the years developed the current strategies which are now in confrontation. in 1964 and 1965, the hanoi leadership attempted to exploit
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the political turbulence that followed the fall of their president in 1963. greatly encouraged by the disorder that marks the political scene in saigon, the communist leadership made a massive effort to press on to victory. to meet the growing needs of military manpower, they began infiltration of personnel in the north vietnamese army, first as individual replacements, later as formed tactical units. utilizing this new strength, they intended to make the monsoon offensive of 1965 a major drive for significant military victory. concurrently, they increased the sabotage directed at the land communications system in south vietnam for the purpose of hampering the distribution of commodities, and thus adding to the economic stresses in the south. terrorism was stepped up and directed towards united states personnel and installations. they apparently hope to be able
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to seize and hold politically important localities such as districts and provincial capitals to demoralize the , vietnamese people and government and demonstrate to the united states that we are backing a cause which must inevitably fail. faced with this growing threat of the vietnamese government, american officials were obliged to develop a counter strategy to block and defeat the intensified efforts of our adversaries. it evolved and assumed its full form with the critical decision in 1965 to introduce united states ground forces and to initiate the bombing campaign against military targets in the north. both of these courses of action had been under consideration at least since november 1961 when i presented my report to president kennedy following my visit to saigon to a breeze the situation there -- appraise the situation there.
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we did not take either action at that time, but my report contained the following comment with regard to the possible necessity of using air power against the source of the viet cong support in north vietnam. i quote, "while we feel that the program recommended represents those measures which should be taken now, i would not suggest that it is the final one. it is if the hanoi decision is to continue, the irregular war declared on south vietnam in 1959 with continued infiltration and covered support of guerrilla bands in the territory of our allies, we will then have to decide whether to accept as legitimate the continued guidance, training, and support of a guerrilla war across international boundaries. can we admit the establishment of the common law that the party at hand and his friends are denied the right to strike the source of the aggression after
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the fact of that external aggression is clearly established?" end of the quotation. by february 1965, it became clear that we could no longer tolerate this clandestine support from the immune sanctuary in north vietnam which served as the external base for the viet cong insurgency. the strategy we are pursuing consist of four components. the first includes the many activities directed at increasing the effectiveness of our ground combat against the viet cong and north vietnamese units in south vietnam. for this purpose, we have made the utmost efforts to increase the indigenous forces of south vietnam. always mindful that this is a vietnamese war in which we should do only those things which the vietnamese cannot do for themselves or cannot do in time to avoid defeat. from july 1950 -- 1964,
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correction, to july 1965, the armed forces and police of south vietnam were increased by some 120,000 trained men, a very credible effort on the part of this small country where military leadership and administrative experience are inevitably in short supply. as of today, the overall strength in south vietnam is approaching 700,000, the largest military force in being among all of our allies worldwide. encouraging though the results have been in increasing the vietnamese strength, during the year cited, our intelligence authorities believe that the viet cong increased their total strength by some 60,000. in other words, we were advancing at a rate only a little better than two to one in our favor. since history has shown that the government forces successfully opposing a guerrilla insurgency in the past have required a much greater preponderance of
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strength, 10 to one or 12 to one, for example, it was clear the vietnamese could not raise forces fast enough to keep pace with the growing threat of the viet cong in time. it was this sobering conclusion that led to the decision to introduce ground forces with their unique mobility and massive firepower to compensate for the deficiency in vietnamese strength. with such forces available, it was felt that the ratio of required strength above cited would lose much of their validity. i am thoroughly aware, mr. chairman, of the concern of this committee over the growing requirements for american troops in south vietnam. is this an endless requirement in an open-ended war? i do not believe that anyone can give a completely satisfactory reply to this question, but i can suggest the consideration of certain limiting factors which have a bearing on the matter. first on our side, we are not
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setting as an objective for our ground forces the occupation of all south vietnam or the hunting down of the last armed guerrillas. we are in vietnam to safeguard the people. who are the real target of the enemy. it has little meaning in that it supports the people. fuss, the extent of control of the population is the true measure of progress, rather than the control of territory, or not doing too badly. -- we are not doing too badly. senator mansfield estimates in his recent report that the government controls about 60% of the population, the viet cong about 22%, leaving 18% contested. when i left saigon last july , those figures were 53%, 25%, and 22%. the point i wish to make is that when one expresses our military
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objective in terms of securing a higher portion of the population, the troop requirement loses some of its impression of open ended this -- open endedness. under this concept, the prime target of our united states forces becomes the main line enemy units which constitute the greatest threat to population, not the entire guerrilla force wherever found. another limiting factor is the the logistic difficulty of the viet cong supporting an increased number of troops in combat. the combination of air attacks on lines of supply and of increasing ground attacks on their units, which must then consume supplies at an increased rate, places some kind of ceiling on the forces they can maintain in south vietnam. i wish i knew exactly where that ceiling is, but our basic data on viet cong logistics are too uncertain to permit decisions. the point is that there are factors which tend to keep our
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troop requirements finite and limit hanoi's ability to support additional forces in the south. the second component of our strategy relates to the use of air power against military targets in north vietnam. now, it is well to remind ourselves the reason that propels us to this decision. the first was to give the people of south vietnam the assurance for the first time of imposing a direct penalty on the source of the aggression. for 11 years, they have suffered the depredations of the viet cong without exacting any price from the country which provided the direction and support. the morale of the people and the armed forces in vietnam received an inestimable lift from the air -- decision to use the air forces of our countries against military targets in the homeland of the enemy.
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a lift which has certainly contributed to sustaining the will to fight. the second reason for the decision to use air power, in so far as it could be effective, to limit and render more difficult the infiltration of men and supplies from north vietnam to south vietnam. it was perfectly clear from the start, as it is clear today, that air power would not be able to stop infiltration. we were quite sure however that it could impose a ceiling on the forces which could be sustained in combat in south vietnam. i do not believe that anyone who has reflected on the effect of destruction, ports, rail yards, and similar facilities, and on the effect of the limitation of daylight on roads throughout a large part of vietnam, can avoid the conclusion that the air campaign has had an important effect in slowing down infiltration and in raising its price. up at -- a testimonial to its
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effectiveness was the feverish activity in north vietnam during the bombing pause to repair damage and move transport in daylight. the third reason for the decision to use our airpower was to provide a sobering reminder to the leaders in hanoi that progressively they must pay a price for the continuation of their support of the viet cong insurgency. in spite of their defined statements, determination to endure these attacks forever, i for one know from experience that no one derives any enjoyment from receiving incoming shells and bombs day after day, and i have no doubt that the warning message is getting through to the leadership in hanoi. i -- in a very real sense, our the willis to change of the leadership. we hope the failure to win victory on the ground in the -- air attacks will present to the
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leadership something with so much disinterested will realize they must join with us in discussing ways and means of improving the lot of all vietnam. the third component includes all of those nonmilitary activities which are so important but with received too little public attention. it is not that our leaders have been unaware of better government, better living conditions, and a better future for the people living in this country. unfortunately, lack of stability for a long time limited the effectiveness of the many programs for development and reconstruction. but now, with the growing forces on the ground and the slowly developing maturity of the civil leadership in saigon and the hope there will be
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much greater progress that in the past in bringing the benefits of a normal life to this war weary people. as you know, the recent conference devoted most of its time to a consideration of these nonmilitary activities. if we are to leave a viable country after the end of the viet cong insurgency it is , essential we make progress even under the conditions of war in stabilizing the government, the society, and the economy. the fourth component of our strategy is that which relates to our political and diplomatic peacefulo talk about a settlement to this conflict. the so-called peace offensive is so well-known as to require no discussion at this time as is also the discouraging lack of response from the other side. i am obliged to feel the hanoi leadership is not yet convinced that it must mend its ways. perhaps they still hope for some kind of military victory in
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the south. certainly they are not convinced , that in some way do united -- the united states cannot be detached from support of and they hope against hope that through international or domestic pressure, our government can be forced off course. they have not forgotten paris. i believe the viet cong may just be as fortunate in washington. they doubt the will of the american public to continue the conflict indefinitely. in a contest of patients, they expect to win even though vietnam, like the south, has been constantly at war for 29 years. until it becomes perfectly clear to them that we are going to stay on course regardless of anything they do, i am afraid we are not likely to see them at a conference table, or if they come unconvinced of the inevitability of a failure of their present course, we can
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expect them to stall, delay, and maneuver, just as they did in korea for over two years. our four-point strategy consists of a complex but coherent package of measures designed to improve the effect of this of our forces on the ground in south vietnam, to exploit our air superiority by attacking military targets in north vietnam, to stabilize the political, social, and economic systems in south vietnam and to seek an honorable negotiated , settlement. it is limited as to executives -- objectives with the geographical scope as to weapons , and force is employed, and as to targets attacked. all parts are interrelated. all parts are indispensable. we must be successful on all fronts. the key, i believe, is pressure at all points. directed at the will, ability,
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and the means of the communist aggression. it is a fair question to ask, if this is the best strategy to obtain our basic objective. the first to concede that we can and must do better in all four categories of our effort. but unhappily, progress toward peaceful negotiation is a bilateral affair which can progress only with some cooperation from hanoi and as you know thus far that , cooperation has been withheld so far. having conceded the need and the possibility for improvement within components of our current strategy, i must add in honesty that i know of no new strategic proposal which would serve as a better alternative to the one which i have described. that is, provided we do not sacrifice our basic objective. there are, of course, the two old alternatives which we have always rejected and i hope we will continue to reject.
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to withdraw and give up our basic objective or to widen the attacks.ssive air these two courses of actions appear so to contravene that our efforts and i shall not take the time and effort to discuss them here. the only new proposal of which i am aware is the so-called holding strategy. which, in its least extreme form, calls for a cessation of united states reinforcement, limitation of military operations to those necessary for the security of our forces and the maintenance of our military presence. on several occasions i've expressed myself in opposition to those actions. to button up our troops in defensive positions and thought sacrifice their unique attributes of mobility and firepower would constitute and
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assign a most inglorious mission to our troops. they have high morel and complete confidence. the behavior could be disastrous. at a minimum, it would destroy vietnam andce in encourage the timid and wavering to turn to the viet cong for protection and to the liberation front for political accommodation. another serious result of such passivity would be the impossibility of obtaining honorable terms at any peace table. economy nests are tough enough to deal with when one has the upper hand. they would never give us acceptable terms if the military situation reflected weakness on our part and a readiness to withdraw. our alternative would be to accept dishonorable terms or sit out the war in turin, italy -- indefinitely on a supine defensive. i can hardly see the american
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public or this congress long supporting such an action. i am obliged to conclude the so-called holding strategy is really not an alternative way of reaching our objective of and independent south vietnam free from attack. we could never reach it on such a course. rather than being a true alternative, it amounts to the modification and erosion of our basic objective and appears to be unacceptable. in conclusion i feel our present , strategy is the best that has been suggested and it is important that we adhere to it always striving to improve our , performance within the confines of a general concept. certainly it is not without , risk, but little of this value is accomplished without risk . isseems to me that risk warranted by the importance of our stake in southeast asia. congress recognized this in august of 1964. i quote, "the united states
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regards as vital to its national interest in world these the maintenance of peace and security and southeast asia." i subscribed to those words and believe we should live by it. by the words of president johnson, when he said, in regards to our commitment in south vietnam, "we will not be defeated, we will not grow tired, we will not withdraw either openly or under the cloak of a meaningless agreement." thank you, mr. chairman. sen. fulbright: thank you, general taylor. gen. taylor, before i resume the principal question there is just , one statement you make that puzzled me greatly. on page 12 you said, they have not forgotten that they won more
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bienaris than they did in phen phu. what did they win more and paris? gen. taylor: the weekend growing -- weakening conflict on the political and homefront, that it had reached the conclusion that the struggle in south vietnam was hopeless and hence they must and it rapidly. -- and it very rapidly. you will recall that in france, at the time of the accords, arbitrarily set the date of july 20, by which the french would get out regardless of the agreement. whereas, military defeat in which the french last 25,000 or 35,000 troops represented only a serious military setback. not a waterloo. sen. fulbright: you don't consider it a decisive factor? gen. taylor: it tilted the scale
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of decision but the french and strong military forces which were not involved at all. sen. fulbright: i would be glad to have that information, i was always under that impression that it was a decisive battle and that the vietminh felt they had won the war at that time. gen. taylor: i am sure they did. afterulbright: how long dien -- after dien ben phu? i think it was the next day. gen. taylor: they were almost concurrent. sen. fulbright: not being a military man, as you know, i would not wish to argue about this point at least, the strategy. arguing theable of strategy pursuing the war. from my point of view, the validity of our involvement is even more important. i think there is no question
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that if we wish to bring all of our power to bear we can completely annihilate this small country. as you have already pointed out, the 15 million people, and they are very poor people, are they not? there is no industrialization of any kind. they did not make planes or missiles. anything of that character. i am sure we can completely crush them to dust and rubble of we wish to do so and i would not doubt by the past of our military people have the greatest confidence in their capacity to do this job. what does worry me as a representative of ordinary civilians in arkansas is whether or not we are justified in pursuing this course. therefore, my mind has been attracted by that part of this controversy as to whether or not we ought to pursue this. i know it is an unpopular way to
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look at it, but you quote on page three, you are worried about national wars. the armed struggle by the vietnamese people or the war on the algerian people serve as the latest example of such wars. these are revolutionary wars. such wars are not only admissible but inevitable. can such wars develop in the future? they can. i was reminded, how would you describe the war of 1776? was that a war of national liberation, or wasn't it? what kind of war did we fight in in 1776? how would you describe it? gen. taylor: let me think of doing of your previous comments -- up two of your previous comments. i hope my statement has made it clear it is not our objective to crush or destroy north vietnam. we are trying to change the will of the leadership in hanoi. i would like to quote a sentence
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written by a greek philosopher. said, it is not the purpose of war two annihilate those who provoke it but to mend their ways. i would make this point very strongly. we are trying to make them mend their ways not accept -- sen. fulbright: what about south vietnam? to them, we are north vietnam. we will come back to this question on whether these two different countries -- gen. taylor: i would like to comment on the algerian comment. perhaps a feeling that the situation in algeria and the south vietnam, they are comparable. they are not. in algeria, there was resistance to a colonial rule at the present time, there is not resistance to colonial rule unless you want to view the communist aggression as a form
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of colonial aggression, i think that would be fair. sen. fulbright: i would not wish to put it this way, but if you want to say we are the colonial having stepped into the shoes of the french, some put it that way. i don't. is this an effort by the vietnamese people to throw off colonial domination of the french? yes.taylor: i think sen. fulbright: wasn't it a group who succeeded in drawing out the french, largely influenced if not dominated by communist leadership under ho chi minh? gen. taylor: many of our friends in south vietnam one against the french, and they are anti-french. sen. fulbright: he is making speeches. >> he is the leader of this committee. i would like to hear the answer to your
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question. you set yesterday, you can say it again today over the microphone. continue, general. gen. taylor: i was making the connection between algeria and south vietnam is not in my judgment. with regard to 1776, i respond with great difficulty finding any similarity between the actions -- sen. fulbright: i asked you how , would you characterize the revolution of 1776? gen. taylor: as a civil revolution against a colonial power. sen. fulbright: the revolution of the vietnamese against the french. gen. taylor: it is, but it is not the same situation. sen. fulbright: i understand, but i am try to find the origin of the struggle. it began that way and we think it started with dien ben fu. is that not correct? gen. taylor: it was like a magic
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butt, -- climactic point, -- sen. fulbright: i don't know what evidence you have for that. it was quite a blow to the french, and they decided it was hopeless. the negotiated almost immediately. they agreed to a cease-fire. is that not correct? gen. taylor: the battle of march was a great defeat for the french. a battle is important as it relates to the home situation, and dien ben fu. was very critical. sen. fulbright: this was a genuine revolt against colonial domination. people often fight. there was a great deal of tenacity. neededfrench thing, if i -- lead it correctly, there is a hopeless struggle.
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pu was one ofn them. it was a very costly war. at $2selves are looking billion in helping the french maintain their domination of the vietnamese, did we not? between 1950 in 1964. gen. taylor: i don't have a date. sen. fulbright: it was a considerable sum. behind the british and the french, we threw off the british role -- gen. taylor: roles change. sen. fulbright: roles do change. i don't recall in all our history where we ever tried to assist a colonial power to retain its domination over the colony. do you? gen. taylor: for the record, i would remind us all we are not talking about the situation at that time. we are talking about communist colonialism.
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sen. fulbright: i understand, general. i don't wish to argue about your thetegy about what you call vietminh. obviously, they have become the enemy. they were not necessarily so in 1946. this is what worries a great many people is the questions the other day and in other hearings whether or not we are justified in the position we have taken here. these two countries, which you now call two countries, north and south vietnam, prior to the 1884,t and by force in was one country, wasn't it? sen. fulbright: -- gen. taylor: in a loose sense of the word. sen. fulbright: it had been a country for 2000 years. gen. taylor: not as a nation. sen. fulbright: i suppose during the dark ages and feudal ages, no country was a country as it
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they are today but it was as , much of a country is any of those were. gen. taylor: there were three separate states as you recall. tonkin -- sen. fulbright: there was a war they had between north and south vietnam, very much, i suppose like our war between north and south here, but we still consider ourselves one country even though we had a war, didn't we? and the more powerful side prevailed. gen. taylor: we behave somewhat differently sir after that situation in southeast asia. i am always reminded of the events that took place in the north in 1954 when tens of thousands of the north vietnamese who opposed ho chi minh were murdered. that seems to be the pattern of the communist leadership. sen. fulbright: war has a way of killing people. there are a lot being killed now. one last question in your
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, statement, in the u.s. news and world report which i had the opportunity to read, it was published before i only got your , speech this morning. one of the other things about this involved is our commitment. you say there, and i quote first , we have the moral stake of our commitment to the people of the vietnam. i say the people, not the government. the government has changed but our obligation is to the people of south vietnam. that is the end of your quote. what bothers me, how does the nation go about making a obligation to the people of a country as distinguished from its government? gen. taylor: obviously for political and diplomatic purposes one deals with the , government. i'm not suggesting by that statement we go around government to deal with people, but as i view it, and this is my personal view, our obligation is these people. sometimes i find gentlemen who
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discuss the issue try to make a legalistic question out of it. it is a question of the legality of these governments of which we've seen such a long number. the point i am trying to make is our obligation is to the people, not to governments. sen. fulbright: how do you go about determining what the people of south vietnam want? how do you know what they want? gen. taylor: i would like to cite a few reasons why i'm convinced the people of south vietnam are deeply committed to the anti-communist cause. we could go back to 1954 when a choice was given to every citizen, both north and south whether to go north and state , -- state north and be a communist under ho chi minh, or to move south or stays up and be in the non-communists after of the country. you will recall roughly a million people came south, bringing nothing but what they could carry in their hands to avoid being in the communist camp. on the other hand, only about 80,000 moved north to choose the side of ho chi minh.
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so i think that is a starting , point of the indication of the attitude of the people in south vietnam. since that time in the course of the war there have been large , movements of population. we estimate there have been over 700,000 refugees either fleeing from the viet cong and the possibility of viet cong domination and south vietnam, or simply avoiding the hazards of war. it is significant they always come to the government side. we know of no movement of population to get behind the viet cong front and supported. we had an election last may, vietnam, which was very interesting. almost never reported or referred to in this country. it was held in almost every province of south vietnam. the political purpose was not particularly important. it was to elect counselors. either municipal or regional.
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the result was quite interesting. of all of those estimated eligible to vote and clearly outside of the areas held by the viet cong, some 70% registered to vote -- excuse me, some 67% registered and those who registered, 73% voted. that is better than we do and -- in our own country. wanted to sabotage this, every man who voted was doing an act of defiance of the viet cong and in many case taking serious chances because his name was being put on the reprisal list of the viet cong who observed it. things like this comment senator, make me convince the vast majority of the vietnam mise are deeply committed to the anti-communist cause. sen. fulbright: since you mentioned 1954, how do you reconcile the views of general that 80%r, when he saw
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of the people would vote or ho chi minh? gen. taylor: i would have to find the context in which that was made. i would disagree if it was made today. there was, of course a fear of , the elections as set up by the accord. it soon became apparent it would be impossible for international supervision. sen. fulbright: my time is up. i do not wish to be understood. i do not think they have that kind of choice. the alternatives are pretty bad. i do not think any of them would, certainly none of them would. i think none of us would. >> i followed your statement with a great deal of interest. it should serve to clear up some misunderstandings of a great many of people.
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first, let me ask you an elemental question. who are the viet cong? gen. taylor: the viet cong are, in terms of military categories, they are the so-called mainline units who are the hard-core. the tough, professional fighters. then they have both provincial and local units that are more paramilitary in character than strictly military. and then they have a large car journey of military, some 40,000. as racially concerned, the majority, i do not know are , south vietnam. a large majority. they are south south vietnamese. , particularly those in the mainline units have been taken north and trained in the north and sent south. so that their leadership, regardless of ethnic origin, came out of north vietnam. now since the end of 1964, in addition to the viet cong
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themselves, we have the so-called units of the army of north vietnam who were brought in, as i mentioned, first as individuals, then later in formed units. so you have them as a very important reinforcement and they all have north vietnam. >> we hear a good bit from time to time about this being simply civil war. in a country that we are in effect, intervening in internal affairs of that country. what would you say about that? gen. taylor: i would say that is simply not the case. the military arm is used clandestinely to overthrow and impose the communist rule of the
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people of south vietnam. leadership, important supplies, all come from north vietnam. in other words, they are directed by another power and ideology. very clear, i think. that fit in with the declaration president truman made of our foreign policy at the time and helping out in greece and turkey? gen. taylor: i think you should ask the secretary of state that. i am far from an expert. >> but you were present. gen. taylor: i was, but i don't have it in front of me. >> you don't feel that this is needing of communist foe, under communist direction, the direction of a foreign government in the country of the vietnam, which we were bound by our own undertakings to
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help? gen. taylor: that is my opinion, sir. we were not a party to the geneva conference. neither did south vietnam. did we make an agreement with the south vietnamesedid we makee would help them? >> shortly thereafter. there was an exchange of letters where the president agreed to the request. that wehat a promise would go into south vietnam originally? i think it was a basic action that initiated our aid. >> as i recall, that was the principal document that was the starting point of the programs carried forward. puthen did we first
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military assistance -- give military assistance? >> 1954, we establish a mission that gradually put military grew. the french remained in a training capacity and it eventually went through a form of participation and we took over the training task. there was an economic age going on at the time. >> they increased the letters? shortly thereafter, the total went to 17,000.
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>> and then, it was some time later that we put in sizable .nits >> not until 1965. there was an ability to compensate from the north and we acided to put our forces in combat role. >> they were increasing the military manpower. it was not enough to match infiltration from the north. >> i think the increase has been good and the limiting factor is leadership. tois him was impossible re-create a trained officer corps quickly. leadership. even so, they have men in the army, air force's, and the -- air force, and the
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police. >> you do not subscribe to the domino theory. admit that communist success would have an effect? >> i do not like the domino that, because it suggests automatically, the neighbor goes down. it may not be the neighbor. we may have difficulties in africa or latin america. >> in your opinion, can we win in south vietnam? byi want to say what i mean "winning." "winning" means appomattox. it does not mean that to me in this situation. to havee ability
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freedom and self-determination in south vietnam. i think that we can do that, yes. >> it is for a purpose of enabling this country, to whom we are bound by agreement, to government or own choose their own government. .> that is my opinion yes. >> you mentioned some of the advocacy of going to one place and creating a holding action. ,ould we win, as you see it with that kind of action? >> definitely not. i think that, inevitably, if, indeed, the goal is to get to a conference table from that achieve we would never the objective we have been
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discussing. >> you mentioned that the military winning alone is not sufficient. >> we must be successful on the ground against the viet cong to convince the leadership that the insurgency cannot win all stop in that sense, the military is important and it is important and creating security the hind which we can do "nationbuilding" acts. do well in the military field, political field, economic field, and psychological field. >> are we beginning to move in >> ifield of pacification? gather that you are using this term to -- >> we have always been able to ise in areas where security enough. it is hard to put corn outside of the stockade when the indians are around.
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we have to get the indians further away. importance,equal the growing capability of the south vietnamese to administer the civic actions necessary to support the military program and the increased capability of both of those fields is encouraging. >> you were there for quite a year.a little over a a little over a year. do you follow this governments of south vietnam? there has been growth in the stability of the government question mark >> almost anything would be an improvement from what i saw as an ambassador. i was there 13 months and, since this present government is in its eighth month, it has clearly done better with stability than
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any government since president dien. i think that this is the first government that is solidly backed by the armed forces and, as long as they are behind this government, in the present sense, it will not be overturned by a noisy minority, as some more in the previous years. i think that there is encouragement in the indicators of growing stability in the political scene. that the government of south vietnam and the actions in fighting the viet cong is not supported -- does not have popular support within south vietnam. what is your answer to that? >> because of the war conditions, the present leadership of the individuals is not known throughout the country and saigon, historically, has
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always been an unpopular place. it is where the tax collector lives. i do not think there is commitment to this government or the leader. is showinginister political sense. he obviously has the interests at heart. the commitment of the people is against communism and they know that kind of life is not progress, but regression. the people are anti-communist, with no personal devotion to the resident government, because they do not know it. >> my time is up. thank you, mr. chairman. had a uniquer, you experience in this particular situation that we find ourselves in in south vietnam.
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i would like to get clear things. it appears to me, at the moment, i am suggesting this -- there in two types of procedures south vietnam, in which we have become involved. leaving out the fact that we did contribute a great deal of money to the french and whatever and,ities they had incidentally, i want to ask you opinion is sound. a great deal of the french in south vietnam came from internal confusion in france and the idea that forces were not being supported in south vietnam and it led to them not conscripting,
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only using volunteers. eventually, they dried up on the far as the back home support was concerned. >> i am sure that was a factor. >> i am following the withdrawal undertooknch and we giving aid to south vietnam. a, it wast time of limited to technical aid and military advisory aid. >> we have both an economic and military program. i would point out the program greater than the military aid, if we do not
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include the last year. >> so much of what i'm pointing out is that the fact of the active militants -- military action in south vietnam is a continuing action from 1954. 1960, the end of the weenhower administration, had 750 military personnel in vietnam. it is within 25-30 of the number. toy were entirely devoted giving technical advice on training programs to the south vietnamese troops. >> that is correct. the french were still there and giving tactical training. >> did we have commitment with the south vietnamese at that activeat we would put in
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military forces to conduct a war a long with them? commitment. no such >> when was the commitment made for us to actively participate in the -- in the military operations of the war as american personnel? as the combat forces are concerned, a took place in 1965 will stop in the air, more actively, over several years. -- in 1965. in the air, more actively, over several years. our troops --
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i have not agreed to that theory. [indiscernible] >> with regards to the situation , it we find ourselves in now have asked this before and i put it to you, in my view, it seems that we have, i three broad courses of actions that have ramifications and one would be to withdraw. the other would be to follow the idea of a strong security and defense in a limited area and sit there and hold that strong
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point and hope they would not lob mortar shells at us. the third is to either increase or continue the active oftraction -- destruction military tactics. thed you say those are three general courses? fourthsld mention a unlimited air force use. part ofld mention it as the third. >> it is so different that you ought to make it another category. is, you getophy into a hassle of this kind and you want to win. speculating now, if we just
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and our our forces support there and said, let's come to the conference table, with the north vietnamese,? >> it is hard to say. they would have already one. we would be sunk. >> in the history of struggles peoples, doons or you know of any great number of istances where a nation is able to come to a conference table and make concessions? assume thents balance of power at the moment.
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obviously, no one to go to a conference table from a week position, unless they are ready to come out with a week solution. >> unless they think they have to. no other choice. >> are the north vietnamese in that state of mind? what's i do not think they are convinced that they are bound to lose. -- >> i am not convinced that they think that they are bound to lose. what was the bombing time question mark >> 37 days. >> 37 days -- bombing time? 37 days. >> do you think much was accomplished, other than the north vietnamese to
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rehabilitate in the field and repair damage so that they can return to the fray? >> i think a great deal was accomplished with the pause. worth a try.was 37 days iswas worth subjective. it was worth a pause. with all of the consultations, i am sure it is a good thing. to allow theailure other side to recoup and build up stock. these can be remedied if our conduct shows that we are --vitably, in all terribly nalterably committed.
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>> they have been at it 20 years over there. acclimated to fighting over there, will it mean so much to continue for another 10-12 years? if you are watching a prizefight, would you bet on a man in his first round or his 20th? >> i am not so sure. exposed to war situations. used to war.s the first shell is excited and -- the 1000th
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is unattractive. >> unless they are hurt worse than they are hurt now. senator.ortant point, they have been technically at war for 21 years. north vietnam has never been touched in the last 11 years and this is something new. forced the attacks homeland to pay a price. this is new. >> an article in the paper was warner and he says that the vice president of the national maritime unit in vietnam made a flat statement
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and 36% of all cargo winds up in the hands of the guerrillas. >> i would not know if that is accurate and i doubt he has access to that information. percentage. whether or not that is an extravagant measure of truth, i am quoting, and this article, 40% of all cargo -- he does not qualify any -- and about 36% of all supplies are unloaded in vietnamese ports and wind up in the hands of the guerrillas.
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>> i have never seen anything to suggest that precise knowledge. >> we understand that the amount of subjective's for our to enable theis south vietnamese, for the political stability of the area have free to and we are going to force to convince the is unprofitable.
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there, isink, right where the confusion arises. -- ora nebulous considered by many as nebulous -- objective. certainly, the self-determination of self vietnam is something and the ability for free elections is something. , most of us to not know whether we are going to step this thing up to a point where it helps and really convinces that is futile to continue the venture. i think that is where we run into a lot of confusion and misinterpretation. >> i do not know how there can be any doubt about the basic
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objective. it is simple. they choose their own way of life. i think the discussion of ways, from, has become complex the nature of the war. there is not one situation there. 44 situations, corresponding to the provinces. it can be misleading. i think these factors add to the difficulty in making clear what has taken place. >> thank you. my time is up on this round. were the french people growing restless with the increased opposition to the war? >> there was opposition developing and the government
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was changing rapidly. it became a political issue. >> it is my recollection that for office that he would bring the war to an end. >> france stood on that platform. i am not sure. i have not reviewed it. he was elected, interpreted the mandate, and went to the geneva accords and joined in to carryng the accords out what everybody considered to be a mandate that the french people gave to him. is that a fair observation? .> i do not recall certainly, you say he took office with the intention of doing this and he fixed a date forces,raw forges --
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selling out getting an agreement. people in a country demonstrate opposition to the foreign policy and they make it clear, as they did in france, that they want the war stopped, you interpret this as weakness on the home front? >> the question, as i understand it, was, if they had a clear majority of the indication of the will of the people, would i call that a weakness? >> it is important for a success in southeast asia and it could change the policy of the government. >> we are now engaged in a historic debate in the country
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of honest differences of opinion and i happen to hold the point of view that it would be too long before the american people repudiate the war in southeast asia. >> that is good news to hanoi. >> there are honest differences of opinion and i do not intend on getting into the gutter with you and engaging in that debate. the president is losing the people by millions in connection to this war in southeast asia and i am asking, if people decide the war should be stopped in asia, would you take the position that that is a weakness? our people would be misguided and would not understand the consequences.
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>> we agree that they can be misguided and, in my judgment, you have been misguided in this war. violation of the -- to make aate demonstration. you are a guest. i want to point out that general eisenhower, august 17, is reported as saying, accurately in the press, and i , the read what it says communist must be stopped in vietnam. he denied that he ever gave a unilateral military commitment to the government. a -- aid.
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, it isenhower said probably time to get into the eisenhower letter. >> he said we would help the country. not talking about military programs. foreign aid. foreign aid program. vision of what was thereto take place and was no commitment to the contingency because we did not see at. aid.rogram was not just it had a limited military commitment. the conference took note on the cessation of hostilities in
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vietnam with foreign troops and personnel and all kinds of arms and munitions. do you think our military aid was in violation of the declaration? >> i would say that there was hostilitiesation of and the north vietnamese left behind 5000-6000 men and ratesded to reinforce north vietnam and the whole provision was never effective. >> the secretaries to the treaties signed it. >> they did not know what would .ake place the ink was not dry on the paper before they were violating it.
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>> there was a position that the course of action and violation was justified. >> what was the question? >> you have not heard the french or the other signatories take a position that the course of action was contrary. there are treaties being toward up. >> it was not our treaty or the vietnamese people. let me remind listeners that the leaders at the time denounced .he treaty in advance perspicacityntial that the other side would never hear the provision. >> i have questions about what the government is and how it .ame into being
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i want to go over the declaration. the paragraph says that the conference takes notes on the and noon of hostilities military base, under the control of a foreign state, may be assembled. the latter has an obligation to see that it does not constitute part of a military alliance and will not be used in those services. do you think that the military forces complement that section of the declaration? i would say that, by the time we achieve a base, the accord had been nullified. i will take you to paragraph six. six,on six of paragraph
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the conference recognizes that ae agreement is to settle military question with a view of ending hostilities and that a military demarcation line is provincial and should not be interpreted as constituting a territorial boundary. the execution of the provisions set out in the declarations and the agreements on the cessation of hostilities illustrates the future. we had much to do in setting up in the first place? >> i think that a day would come when unification is possible and on terms freely reached by the hanoi,ese without it
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they petitioned for a long span of time and it was inevitable. >> the declaration says the that some declares political problems are on principles of independence and territorial integrity to permit the vietnamese people to enjoy the fundamental freedoms of democratic institutions that are established as a result of secret ballots to ensure that a restoration of peace has been made and that there is a free expression of the national will. the general elections will be held under the supervision of the international commission that is composed of member states and the international supervisory commission to agree on the cessation of hostilities and conferences will be held
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with representative authorities from 1955 onward. newt it true that the elections ought to be held under the united nations, contrary to , as the treaty called for eisenhower admits in his book? >> as you well-known, it became entirely clear that there would be no such thing with a international supervision of elections. it would not circulate freely and the police state have been formed by the end of 1955. realism and it was impossible to contemplate elections under those conditions. it could not be held. we did not need to do anything. the vietnamese never signed it.
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thehe demarcation lines and demarcation of military zones with french forces. it was contemplated that there was nothing but to zones and the proceeded to set up the government and it was in violation. it is going to be under these terms later. if it is coming from the north-south. >> center, is your position the elections could have been held. -- senator, it is your position that the elections could have been held. >> i have no doubt about it. history will record that my country stopped the election and it is a black mark.
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>> vietnamese citizens were murdered and the control commission did nothing, at the time. >> there was no question the communists were despicable and shocking. >> would you force communism on the vietnamese who wanted to be free? bungleds were so badly and i would get a protectorate in their. we do not even have the manpower or the resources to police asia. we will have to. >> your time is up. >> i would like to respond. >> quite all right. >> i would like to ask another
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question. -- senatorenter continue a protectorate? >> it is a primary peacekeeping objective. i would get this debate out there before the world. >> as you know, the communist world had anything -- refuse to have a few to do with the united nations. has dozens ofons members. i have questions that i hope are constructive and will get constructive answers. general, do you think that france could have won the war in north vietnam, if it had not been for a weakening will? >> i doubt that. i think they could have lasted
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longer. fight andcontinued to they felt that, if they gave in this northetnam, african colony would demand independence and they did. france wielding more influence? is probablyhat true. then, isn't japan a stronger nation today after getting out of the mire of trying to control the mainland?
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attempt to an maintain a colonial power. >> it is an example of biting off more than you can shoe and the question is when do we stop biting? >> i don't think any country should fight off more than it can chew. ago.t there a year >> you were not there in 1962. >> i was the chairman of the joint chiefs. >> at that time, i believe that cady requested 6000 troops to be -- thatsouth vietnam requested 6000 troops to be sent to south vietnam.
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it 1961, as a result of a additionalion, advisers went in to south vietnam. >> you do not know if it was specifically your advice or not? personnelamerican resulted from the recommendation i made. theas this the time when body of 6000 troops was followed by more and more troops? i reported what needed to be done in south vietnam and the advisory and legit stick-type test. we did not know with the environment would be and the twore was reached over years. >> you do not know if it was
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more southping vietnamese? >> throughout, every attempt was made. >> it was not foreseen at the time? >> we had hoped that we could meet the threat without using our air force that way. you are a think little further ahead now? the balance of the problem more clearly. >> it probably was not a fair question. no novice can see very far ahead. i'm sure of that. i know better than to quote a general to another.
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saidtheless, general gavin , he thought the problem was how to make it through. do you think of the problem in terms of the settlement that is possible, if the viet cong is defeated? thought the goal is to make the truth consistent with the military effort and to make the best deal we can after we consider all aspects. >> frankly, i do not understand and have a difficult time replying. on pageieve you had it 14 of year statements and you intimated that a time to negotiate is after we defeated them. "defeat." not say
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i am afraid that we are talking about appomattox or something. we must make sure their course of action is a losing one. >> we must put them in a mood to negotiate before negotiating. >> i think that is true and applies throughout history. >> would you agree with -- toent johnson two of negotiate at any time? position is somewhat cross-purposes with the president. >> i do not detect that. >> obviously, he does not think so, either. >> my views are my personal views today.
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>> the vietnam hearings this month on american history tv. you can watch each weekend. onrican history tv is only c-span3. >> gordon smith discusses concerns with tom wheeler's joined byand he is monty. his fostering competition and looking at a cost center. understand why. as a consumer

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