Escalation In Vietnam – 1966 – Past Daily Reference Room

All signs were pointing to a long-long war.

All signs were pointing to a long-long war.

Click on the link here for Audio Player – NBC Radio News – Vietnam 1966: A Year Of Escalation – Feb. 8, 1966 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection

By 1966 our military commitment to Southeast Asia escalated rapidly past the point of no-return. We were heading knee-deep into fighting a war we weren’t entirely clear what the objective was, other than the repeated mantra of ¬†domino effects and the Communist domination of the Far East. But with each new regime change taking over in South Vietnam, the wages of corruption were getting higher and higher. The goal was getting more and more murky and elusive.

But we were being sold a war which we were convinced it was the good guys prevailing over the evil bad guys. It didn’t really occur to anyone that all Vietnam wanted was to be left alone, and that this was one more incursion by yet another foreign power and invariably the results would be the same.

But nobody in Washington in 1966 believed that. The prevailing sentiment was a hawkish one – drive all Communists out, use Atomic weapons if need be. Reduce the jungles to wastelands, pulverize the opposition.

When you’re talking about a war of ideologies, particularly with a culture that’s been around for several hundred years, all the bombing and pulverizing in the world doesn’t win a single heart or mind. In fact, it steels a resolve. And that’s pretty much what happened. Political differences aside, there were huge cultural ones. And that baffled many on Capitol Hill.

But in 1966 too, there was growing sentiment that maybe this war wasn’t one that could be easily wrapped up in a few months, and there was a small-but-growing collection of Senators and legislators, and people in the street, who questioned just what the wisdom behind these sweeping troop increases was all about. And with each nightly report of casualties and body counts, the questions grew louder.

So early in 1966 – this broadcast first aired on February 8, 1966, the Press began to take notice that maybe things just weren’t going as planned. Some minds, previously convinced we were doing the right thing were starting to have doubts. And over the following year, those doubts would increase and become more vocal and more physical.

This post, NBC News -Vietnam Special – 1966: A Year Of Escalation, seeks to answer some of those questions and give some background to what was going on.

It was no easy time, made more difficult by the rapidly escalating division taking place within the U.S., just as the war was rapidly escalating in Vietnam.

1966, it would later prove, was a pivotal year.

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