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Vietnam – Hearts & Minds And Best Laid Plans – July 11, 1968 – Past Daily Reference Room

Vietnam - 1968
Vietnam – Our job was to win hearts and minds – we failed miserably at it.

– Night Call – The Other War And How We’re Losing It – July 11, 1968 – Eastern Educational Radio Network –

By 1968, the war in Vietnam was going past the point of no return – in what was originally pitched as a “Police Action”, it slowly devolved into a protracted war that seemed to have no visible end. There were still Hawks on Capitol Hill, adamant about staying in Vietnam.They were wringing their hands, saying to the effect that it would be over by now if we came in at full strength.

Increasingly, it was looking like we were backing up the wrong guy – that this war of determination was much bigger than the regime running South Vietnam. The signs were everywhere.

We had attempted what we called “pacification” of the Vietnamese people – a somewhat maladroit attempt at “winning hearts and minds” that succeeded in fooling almost no one. But we had a reputation to maintain, albeit a hackneyed one. Our attempts at fixing a situation by throwing money and supplies at it proved to be the exactly wrong approach to take, particularly with a nation of people well used to foreign occupation.

But there were voices in America, and they were just as determined to get us out of Vietnam as there were those who wanted to stay there 10, 15, 100 years from now or until all the hearts and minds had been one.

One of those people whose voice was dead-set against the war was former Marine Colonel William Corson who had just published a book (at the time of this broadcast), called The Betrayal. It was a stunning rebuke on the war and how it was being waged. Needless to say, it wasn’t a popular book with the Hawks of the administration, but it did paint a picture that echoed how America was starting to feel about Vietnam.

Colonel Corson is not only interviewed on this program but also takes numerous calls from listeners and it casts a light on just how much growing resistance was happening with the Vietnam War.

Here is that broadcast, as it was heard on July 11, 1968 over the Eastern Educational Radio Network (forerunner to NPR).

And if you’d like to read the book – it’s still in print:

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